Journal article Open Access

Environmental and Economic Assessment of Castor Oil Supply Chain: A Case Study

Pari , Luigi; Suardi, Alessandro; Stefanoni, Walter; Latterini, Francesco; Palmieri, Nadia

Among the species currently cultivated for industrial vegetable oil production, castor could be a good candidate for future investments due to the good resistance to pests, tolerance to drought, and suitability for marginal lands cultivation. In addition, the production of castor oil from Ricinus generates a large quantity of press cake, husks, and crop residues that, in a framework of bioeconomy, could be used as by-products for different purposes. Using a case study approach, the work presents results of the environmental impact assessment and economic feasibility of the production of castor oil from two di erent castor hybrids comparing four by-products management scenarios and two harvesting systems (manual vs. mechanical). Castor hybrid C-856 harvested manually and that involved only the soil incorporation of press cake obtained by the oil extraction resulted as the most sustainable. The hybrid C-1030 resulted as more profitable than C-856 when harvested with the combine harvester. The ratio between gross margin and GWP emissions was applied to calculate the economic performance (gross margin) per unit of environmental burden. Findings showed that Sc1B scenario in case of C-856 cultivar hybrid had a better ratio between economic performance and greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted into the atmosphere ( 3.75 per kg CO2eq).

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