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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Environmental Assessment of Upgrading Horticultural Side Streams—The Case of Unharvested Broccoli Leaves

Eriksson, Mattias; Bartek, Louise; Löfkvist, Klara; Malefors, Christopher; Olsson, Marie


To facilitate transition to a sustainable food system, it is necessary to address food losses. A large proportion of waste occurs during primary production, with large quantities of edible crop parts left in the field at harvest. One such product is broccoli, where normally only around one-third of the edible parts of the plant are harvested in Sweden. Much of the broccoli plant consists of edible leaves and this side stream represents an unused resource with great potential. This study assessed the potential environmental savings that can be achieved by utilising broccoli side streams as a powder in soups and bread. Consequential and attributional life cycle assessments were conducted, based on scenarios relevant for growers in southern Sweden. The results showed that the scenario with the largest saving potential was to process the broccoli side streams into a powder for use in broccoli soup. The main saving was due to substitution of imported broccoli powder, which was assumed to be produced from broccoli florets using a more fossil-based energy mix. The second best scenario was to use the side-stream broccoli powder as a wheat substitute in bread but, since wheat flour is less resource-demanding than imported broccoli powder, the emission savings were lower in this case. However, replacing wheat flour with a vegetable-based product could provide additional health benefits that are important in achieving a healthy, locally available, and environmentally friendly diet suitable for a sustainable food system.


brassica oleracea; broccoli powder; by-products; valorisation; life cycle assessment

Published in

2021, Volume: 13, number: 10, article number: 5327