Comparative LCA to evaluate how much recycling is environmentally favourable for food packaging

Sara Toniolo, Anna Mazzi, Monia Niero, Filippo Zuliani, Antonio Scipioni

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Plastic represents a significant fraction of the total packaging waste, and its management is an importantissue that should embrace recycling techniques for material recovery. Support decisions in the area ofwaste management can be made using the life cycle approach, which is commonly used to identify theenvironmental impacts of recycling and can give information to put environmental issues into a wideperspective.This study evaluates how much an innovative recyclable package is environmentally preferable toan alternative package that is not recyclable considering that both are produced from recycling post-consumer PET bottles.Two products were chosen to perform the study. The first product is a package produced with a mul-tilayer film and whose end-of-life scenario includes land-filling and incineration. The second productis an innovative package produced employing a mono-material whose end-of-life scenario comprisesrecycling, land-filling and incineration.This study explains that the utilisation of recycled materials represents the initial effort to reduce envi-ronmental burdens and shows that using recycled materials combined with specific additives that assurethe recyclability of the final product leads to a better environmental performance. The package producedemploying a recyclable mono-material film is more environmental advisable than the multilayer for allof the impact categories analysed. The results obtained are also tested using a sensitivity analysis andan uncertainty analysis and confirm the results of the life cycle impact assessment. The study demon-strates the pertinence of the life cycle approach to assess whether a prevention activity to reduce wasteproduction is actually environmental sustainable and to provide decision-making support in the field ofpackaging waste management.© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume77
Pages (from-to)61-68
ISSN0921-3449
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Food packaging
  • Post-comsumer bottles
  • Multilayer plastic tray
  • PET tray
  • Comparative life cycle assessment (LCA)

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