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Life cycle of rice: Challenges and choices for Bangladesh

Poritosh Roy a,*, Naoto Shimizu b, Hiroshi Okadome a,


Takeo Shiina a, Toshinori Kimura b
a

Distribution Engineering Laboratory, Food Engineering Division, National Food Research Institute, Kannondai 2-1-12, Tsukuba 305-8642, Japan
b
Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tennodai 1-1-1, Tsukuba 305-8572, Japan

Abstract
Life cycle of rice (produced by vessel, medium-boiler and untreated process) was evaluated to determine environmental load and production cost of rice in Bangladesh. All the production processes have a negative eect on the environment and the environmental load
varies from process to process. The inventory results (energy consumption and CO2 emission) gradually decreased from the vessel to the
untreated process (vessel > medium-boiler > untreated). The untreated process was found to be both the environmentally sustainable and
cost eective process compared to the others, if milled rice is consumed instead of head rice (whole kernels after milling). A change in
production process and consumption pattern (parboiled to untreated rice) would help to conserve 829% primary energy (biomass) and
abate 2.59.6 million tons CO2 emission per year in Bangladesh.
 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Life cycle of rice; Energy consumption; CO2 emission; Production cost

1. Introduction
Parboiled rice is the staple food in some developing
countries including Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, per capita
consumption is reported to be 168 kg/year (FAO STAT,
2001). Parboiling process has a number of advantages
(improves milling yield, nutritional value and storability)
but it requires a considerable amount of energy and labor.
Parboiled rice has been produced by both traditional and
modern methods. Modern methods are energy and capital
intensive, and are not suitable for small-scale operation at
the village level (Ali & Ojha, 1976; Bhattacharya, 1990).
In Bangladesh, 63% of the total energy consumption is
met by biomass fuel and 37% is commercial fuels (BBS,
1993). The combination of population growth with the
decreasing per capita land area and growing needs of energy

Corresponding author. Tel.: +81 29 838 8027; fax: +81 29 838 7996.
E-mail address: poritosh@arc.go.jp (P. Roy).

puts a great stress on available biomass energy. The household sector consumes 80% of total biomass energy and rural
households use it almost exclusively for cooking (Bari, Hall,
Lucas, & Hossain, 1998). Smith (1999) reported that biomass combustion contributes as much as 2050% of global
greenhouse gas emission of which one-third may come from
households, which has an adverse eect on human health
and the environment. Abatement of greenhouse gas emission from the households is very important to reduce health
risk and global warming potential. This study attempts to
evaluate the life cycle of rice using life cycle assessment
(LCA) methodology to determine the environmental load
of dierent rice production processes and production cost
of rice in Bangladesh.
2. Methodology
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a methodology to assess
all the environmental impacts associated with a product,
process or activity. According to ISO (International Organization for Standardization), LCA is divided into four

phases: goal and scope denition, inventory analysis,


impact assessment and interpretation (ISO, 1997). In this
study, we dealt with the rst two phases (goal and scope
denition, inventory analysis). The impact assessment aims
at understanding and evaluating the environmental
impacts based on the inventory analysis, within the framework of the goal and scope of the study. In this phase, the
inventory results are assigned to dierent impact categories, based on the expected types of impact on the environment. Finally, the interpretation phase where the inventory
analysis and impact assessment results are discussed and
the signicant environmental issues are identied to reach
conclusions and recommendations consistent with the goal
and scope denition.

2.1. Goal denition and scoping


The goal and scope denition is perhaps the most
important component of an LCA since the study will be
carried out according to the statements made in this phase.
It denes the purpose of the study, the expected product of
the study, the boundary conditions, and the assumption.
Furthermore, a reference unit (functional unit), to which
all the environmental impacts are related, has to be dened.
2.1.1. System boundary
In Bangladesh, more than 80% of the rice is processed in
villages and the rest is processed in commercial rice mills
(Rahaman, Miah, & Ahmed, 1996). Commonly used local

Fig. 1. Vessel process of parboiling.

Fig. 2. Medium-boiler process of parboiling.

Seedling

Cultivation

Parboiling (vessel method)


Pre-steaming

Soaking

Steaming

Drying

Dehusking

Milling

Dehusking

Milling

Dehusking

Milling

Harvesting

Drying

Untreated

Paddy

Pre-steaming

Soaking

Steaming

Drying

Rice

Washing

Cooking

Consumption

Parboiling (boiler method)

Fig. 3. Life cycle of rice and the system boundary of this study.

parboiling processes are vessel, small-boiler and mediumboiler. It was also reported that there might be room to
improve the small-boiler process (Roy, Shimizu, & Kimura,
2005). Therefore, among the local parboiling processes
vessel and medium-boiler (Figs. 1 and 2), and the untreated
process were considered to evaluate the life cycle of rice. A
complete life cycle studies should include agricultural production, industrial rening, storage and distribution, packaging, consumption and waste management, all of which
together comprise a large and complex system (Andersson,
Ohlsson, & Olsson, 1998). It has been reported that agricultural LCAs often exclude production processes of medicine
and insecticides, machines, buildings, and roads because of
a lack of data (Cederberg & Mattsson, 2000). In this study,
only the post-harvest phases (parboiling, dehusking, milling
and cooking) of rice were considered. Fig. 3 shows the
life cycle of rice under dierent processing methods and
the system boundary of this study, which is encircled by a
broken line.
2.1.2. Functional unit
The purpose of the functional unit (FU) is to provide a
reference unit to which the inventory data are normalized.
Denition of FU depends on the environmental impact category and aims of the investigation. In this study, the FU has
been dened as the mass of the product, e.g., 1 ton of rice.
2.2. Inventory analysis and data collection
An LCA starts with a systematic inventory, which quanties the resources use, energy use, and environmental

releases throughout the product life cycle being evaluated.


The inventory analysis involves data collection on raw
materials and energy consumption, emission to air and
water, and solid waste generation. In this study, we compiled the data on resources consumption and air emission
(CO2) in the rice life cycle.
2.2.1. Life cycle energy consumption
The energy consumption in the life cycle of rice produce
by local processes (vessel, small-boiler, medium-boiler and
untreated processes) has already been reported where the
energy consumption in the parboiling processes was measured at Gazole under Malda district in West Bengal, India
(Roy et al., 2005). The eastern part of India (West Bengal)
and Bangladesh share the same parboiling processes and
type of energy for parboiling. In this study, energy consumption in the life cycle of rice produced by vessel, medium-boiler and untreated process were derived from the
literature (Roy, Shimizu, & Kimura, 2002; Roy, Shimizu,
& Kimura, 2004; Roy et al., 2005), excluding the energy
consumption in the drying process because, the sun drying
is the common practice in Bangladesh (Table 1).
2.2.2. Air emission
The emission factor for CO2 was derived from the literature (Bhattacharya, Abdul Salam, & Sharma, 2000) and
following assumptions have been made to determine the
CO2 emission in the life cycle of rice. These are: (i) biomass
is the source of primary energy for all types of energy consumed in the life cycle of rice, except the diesel energy, (ii)
IGCC technology (electricity eciency: 43%; Gustavsson,

Table 1
Energy consumption in the life cycle of rice
Processes

Energy consumption in dierent treatments


Form of energy

Parboiling/ton-paddy

Dehusking/ton-paddy

Milling/ton-paddy

Cooking/ton-rice

Vessel

Rice husk, kg
Electricity, kW h

185.6

16.8

17.6

1111.0

Medium-boiler

Rice husk, kg
Electricity, kW h
Diesel, L

118.2

0.06

16.8

17.6

1111.0

Untreated

Electricity, kW h

20.0

8.0

1000.0

1997) was used to generate electricity, (iii) improved cookstove (ASTRA; eciency: 30%; Bhattacharya et al., 1999)
was used for cooking, (iv) rice husk used in parboiling
and electricity generation was assumed to be the industrial
use of biomass and biomass used for cooking is considered
to be the domestic use of biomass.
2.3. Production cost of rice
The cost and prot are the most important indicators in
decision making on an investment. The installation cost of
parboiling plants, market price of paddy, rice husk, broken
grains and labor cost for parboiling treatment, cost of milling and the capacity of the parboiling plants were derived
from the literature (Roy, Shimizu, Shiina, & Kimura,
2006). The processing capacity of untreated process was
assumed to be the same as the vessel process. Rice yield
is an estimate of the quantity of rice (after milling) which
can be produced from a unit of paddy and expressed in a
percentage, i.e., milled rice yield = {(weight of rice kernels
after milling)/(weight of paddy)} 100, and head rice
yield = {(weight of whole rice kernels after milling)/(weight
of paddy)} 100. The maximum head and milled rice yield
were reported to be 68% and 70%, respectively, for parboiled rice, and these were 60% and 68%, respectively,
for untreated rice (Roy, 2003), which have been used in this
study to determine the production cost of rice produced by
the local processes. Based on the monthly production
capacities the production cost of rice was calculated by
subtracting the value of excess rice husk and value of broken grains from the value of paddy, labor cost for parboiling, cost of milling and the depreciation cost (straight line
depreciation at 10% interest rate). Saunders and Betschart
(1979) reported that parboiled and untreated rice contains
15,440 and 15,190 kJ of energy per kilogram, respectively.
Therefore, production cost of rice was worked out for both
per unit mass and energy. The production cost of rice was
worked out for two scenarios: milled and head rice.
3. Results and discussion
Although the inventory results consist of an exhaustive
list of parameters, only the parameters discussed in this
study are resources use (material and energy) and CO2
emission.

3.1. Resources consumption


In the life cycle of rice, dierent types of nal energy
have been consumed. Thermal energy is used for parboiling
and cooking. In dehusking and milling process, mechanical
energy is used. The rice processing industry consumes some
energy and at the same time, it produces some energy in the
forms of byproducts (rice husk). It was assumed that the
energy requirement in the life cycle of rice was met by biomass energy and that biomass (rice husk) was the source of
primary energy for all types of energy, except diesel energy.
Table 2 shows the energy production and resources consumption in the life cycle of rice produced by dierent processes. The untreated process produced the highest amount
of energy compared to the others for the head rice option
however, there is no signicant dierence in energy production for the milled rice option. The untreated process consumes a greater amount of paddy compared to the
parboiling processes for the head rice option and there is
no signicant dierence in paddy consumption for the
milled rice option. However, for both options the parboiled
rice consumed a greater amount of energy compared to the
untreated rice. Therefore, considering the scarcity of food
grains and energy consumption, it would be wise to consume milled rice instead of head rice. A switch from vessel
to medium-boiler or vessel to untreated process results in
conserving 829% primary energy in the rice life cycle. If
fresh rice is considered to be a sustainable energy consumption option (energy shortage may be met by agri-residues,
animal wastes, tree-leaves and twigs) then the other processes might be responsible for deforestation.
3.2. CO2 emission
CO2 emission is directly related to the energy consumption patterns. Among the rice production processes CO2
emission was found to be the highest in vessel process
and the lowest for the untreated process (Fig. 4) because
of the dierence in energy consumption. The air emission
varied from scenario-1 (head rice option) to scenario-2
(milled rice option) because of the dierence in rice yield.
The emission inventory indicated the necessity of a method
switching to reduce environmental load from the rice processing industries in Bangladesh. This study reveals that all
the processes have a negative eect on the environment and
the environmental load depends on the production process.

Table 2
Energy (biomass) production and resource consumption in the life cycle of rice
Processing methods

Biomass (husk) production, kg/ton

Resource consumption, kg/ton

Scenario-1

Scenario-2

Paddy

Biomass

Paddy

Biomass

426.5
426.5
483.3

414.3
414.3
426.5

1470.6
1470.6
1666.7

1255.4
1156.3
885.1

1428.6
1428.6
1470.6

1247.6
1150.5
881.8

Scenario-1

Vessel
Medium-boiler
Untreated (fresh)

Scenario-1: head yield option; Scenario-2: milling yield option.

Scenario-2

1400
Head rice

Milled rice

Emission, kg/t

1300
1200
1100
1000
900
800

Vessel

Medium-boiler

Untreated

Production Processes
Fig. 4. CO2 emission in the life cycle of rice.

(a)

The results showed a gradual decrease in inventory (energy


consumption and CO2 emission) from the vessel to the
untreated process (vessel > medium-boiler > untreated),
which indicates that a switch in rice production process is
required to reduce energy and resource consumption, and
CO2 emission.
3.3. Production cost
Costs are what producers, or consumers understand best
and an integral part of decision-making process when one
is identifying potential improvements of a product, a process, or an activity. As seen throughout the life cycle of rice,
environmental information generated through an LCA
while useful, is not a sucient basis for making a sound
decision about a switch in production and consumption
pattern. In an attempt to broaden the decision making process, production cost of rice has also been worked out. The
properties of rice desired by consumers include whiteness,
translucency, low percentage of damaged or broken grains
and low foreign matter. In the case of the milled rice
option, parboiled rice contains 3% broken grains and
untreated rice contains 13% broken grains, which belong
to premium and grade-1 groups of rice, respectively
(NFA, 1998), would be acceptable to the local consumers.
Fig. 5 shows the production cost of rice produced by the
local processes. This gure indicates that production cost
of the untreated rice (per unit mass or energy) is higher
compared to the parboiled rice for head rice option. However, the production cost of parboiled rice is found to be
higher than the untreated rice for milled rice option. The
dierence in production cost might be resulted by the difference in rice yield and energy consumption in the production processes. Although, parboiled rice contains more
nutritive value compared to untreated rice, the production
cost per unit energy also indicates that untreated rice would
be able to compete with its counter part i.e., parboiled rice.
The production cost of rice is found to be US$145.5/ton for
the untreated process followed by the vessel (US$143.6/
ton) and medium-boiler (US$142.3/ton) for head rice
option. In the case of milled rice option, the production
cost is found to be US$135.9/ton, US$140.1/ton and

(b)
Fig. 5. Production cost of rice. (a) Cost per unit mass, (b) cost per unit
energy.

US$141.3/ton for the untreated, medium-boiler and vessel


process, respectively. The production cost indicates that
milled rice would be acceptable for the local consumers
and the untreated rice would be the best choice for sustainable consumption.
3.4. Eect of method switching on CO2 emission
Greenhouse gas emission has been increasing remarkably by a tremendous use of energy resulted global warming, is perhaps the most serious problem mankind faces
today. Under the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol), countries have been
agreed to stabilize the CO2 emission to the 1990 level, which
needs to reduce it from its present level. In Bangladesh,
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a challenging task
as the growth of the economy and increasing population
growth tend to increase the energy demand. In this study,
rice production processes and consumption patterns are
analyzed to determine probable emission abatement in
Bangladesh. Although the share of dierent rice production
processes are not known, the probable CO2 emission

Fig. 6. Probable CO2 emission abatement in Bangladesh.

abatement in the life cycle of rice is worked out considering


the head rice and the vessel process (most common) as the
baseline for consumption patterns and production processes, respectively (Fig. 6). The result shows that a switch
in consumption pattern (parboiled to untreated rice) and
production process (vessel to untreated process), yearly,
emission abatement would be about 2.5 or 9.7 million tons
in Bangladesh (if per capita consumption is 168 kg/year and
total population is 146.7 millions). This study reveals that a
switch in rice production process and consumption patterns
not only conserve biomass energy in the life cycle of rice, but
also reduce the production cost and environmental load.
4. Conclusions
This study reveals that all the processes are responsible
for environmental pollution and it varies from process to
process. Thus, a switch in rice production processes and
consumption pattern would abate resources consumption,
and CO2 emission in the rice life cycle. The method switching would reduce environmental pollution, deforestation
and global warming potential.
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