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Green by Colour, Green by Nature

16 April 2011

A recent independent study has found that Tubex shelters are more than just green in colour. The Life Cycle Assessment established that Tubex shelters have a net beneficial impact upon the environment.

The Tubex Treeshelter has been found to be more than just green in colour.

An independent Life Cycle Assessment by Swansea University has established Tubex Treeshelters to have a net beneficial impact upon the environment.

The recent study found that the cradle to grave environmental footprint associated with Tubex Treeshelters is positively offset through two key footprint savings that their use provides. Firstly, the footprint associated with the practice of beating up (replacing trees that have died shortly after planting). Secondly, footprint reduction through the use of smaller 2 year old plants (rather than 3 year old plants that are typically used when fencing alone).

The individual browsing protection that Tubex treeshelters provide are proven to play a key role in achieving higher survival rates when compared to planting within fencing alone.

In over 200 Forestry Commission trials Tubex Treeshelters were found to provide 100% survival rates, compared to a 25% failure rate within the first 2 years when within deer- and rabbit-proofed fence alone.  The saving of the environmental impact associated with the replacement plants, the delivery and planting during subsequent years of beating up can be offset against the cradle to grave environmental impact of Tubex Treeshelters.

The Life Cycle Assessment study found that due to the microclimate within a Tubex Treeshelter, the ability to use 2 year old plants also provided a footprint saving. This can be further offset against the environmental footprint of Tubex Treeshelters.

Dr Cris Arnold at the Materials Research Centre of Swansea University worked with several growers, and also researched previously published studies, to evaluate the additional footprint associated with the production and transport of 3 year old plants compared to 2 year old.

When analysing the actual environmental footprint associated with Tubex Treeshelters it was found that the majority footprint occurs within the initial manufacturing of the raw material used by Tubex to produce Treeshelters.  The actual impact associated with the manufacture of Treeshelters in Aberdare, South Wales was found to be moderate and mainly from the electricity used.  The transport impacts were found to be overall relatively small.

When assessing the life cycle impacts of a product, analysts deduct the environmental savings a product provides in its application from the cradle to grave impact of the product.  Dr Cris Arnold’s analysis demonstrates that Tubex Treeshelters can prevent and reduce more impact than they generate, thus a net beneficial environmental impact.

Dr Cris Arnold consistently used the worst case scenario for treeshelters at every stage of this study. By doing so, any benefits accrued by using Tubex treeshelters would be absolutely certain, with any uncertainty improving the case for treeshelters.  The scenarios covered were all based on the most robust published data obtained by Dr Arnold.

Dr Cris Arnold’s Life Cycle Assessment of the Production and Use of Polypropylene Tree Shelters has been approved by review panel and accepted for publication within the Journal of Environmental Management.