Closing the Loop for Aluminium Cans: Life Cycle Assessment of progression in Cradle-to-Cradle certification levels

Monia Niero, Anthony Johannes Negrelli, Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, Stig Irving Olsen, Morten Birkved

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    Abstract

    Despite their different scopes, both the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology and the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified™ Product Standard can support companies in the implementation of circular economy strategies. Considering the case of aluminum cans, the objectives of this paper are twofold: (i) to compare the environmental impact associated with different levels of two C2C certification requirements by using LCA; and (ii) to identify the main challenges and drawbacks in the combined use of LCA and C2C for packaging within the circular economy framework. Twenty different scenarios were developed and compared, according to three C2C certification levels, in terms of % renewable energy and % recycled content. The results show that increasing the recycled content provides more improvements to environmental impacts than increasing renewable energy usage. Furthermore, receiving a higher certification level does not necessarily mean environmental burden reduction in LCA sense. From a methodological point of view, the main challenge for LCA is to address the continuous loop of materials and account for the benefits from recycling in a consistent way. Meanwhile for C2C the challenge is to guarantee a proper translation of the C2C principles into the C2C certification program, avoiding burden shifting and to find a balance between the different certification requirements.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Volume126
    Pages (from-to)352-362
    Number of pages11
    ISSN0959-6526
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Keywords

    • Circular economy
    • LCA
    • Cradle to Cradle
    • Packaging
    • Scenario analysis
    • Recycling

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