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The 2017 Seventeenth Annual UMM Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) celebrates student scholarly achievement and creative activities. Students from all disciplines participate in the URS. Types of presentations include posters, oral presentations, and short or abbreviated theatrical, dance, or musical performances. 

Presentations are accompanied by discussions and multimedia.


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Saturday, April 22 • 10:00am - 12:00pm
Which Contains More Water? A Cup of Coffee or a Cup of Tea?

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Americans are consuming more and more coffee (1.6 million tons imported in 2015) and tea (131,000 tons imported in 2015). What environmental impacts are these imports causing, and which product has a greater impact? This study examined the water footprint of both products using life cycle assessment, which is a technique for assessing environmental impact in different life stages of a product. The concept of water footprint was introduced at a meeting on virtual water trade 2002 in the Netherlands by Arjen Y. Hoekstra from UNESCO-IHE as a way of showing both the visible (e.g. water used to steep tea or brew coffee) and invisible (e.g. irrigation) water contained in a product. This study uses life cycle assessment data published in the peer-reviewed literature from 2003 to 2016, and includes the cultivation, processing, packaging, transport, and consumption stages. The end of life (or disposal) stage was excluded as it contributes very little to the overall water footprint of the products. The results indicate there is far more water required for one serving of coffee (191 L) compared to one serving of tea (23 L). Most coffee imported to U.S. is from Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam, while most of the tea is from Argentina, China and India. Many of these countries (especially Brazil, China and India) also suffer from water shortage, which consumers should consider when deciding whether to purchase tea or coffee.


Saturday April 22, 2017 10:00am - 12:00pm
Student Center, Oyate Hall 600 E 4th St., Morris MN 56267

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