EnvPack an LCA-based tool for environmental assessment of packaging chains. Part 1: scope, methods and inventory of tool

Tom N. Ligthart*, Eggo U. Thoden van Velzen, Marieke Brouwer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The environmental impact, resource use and waste generation of packaging has been a topic of worldwide debate. This resulted in founding the Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIDV), which aims to facilitate the reduction of these impacts. Within KIDV’s scientific programme, an LCA-based tool was developed to show packaging design students the underlying causes of this impact. Researchers can assess packaging chain alternatives with the tool, which is presented in the first part of the paper. Methods: The LCA-based tool, EnvPack, encompassed three consumer products: non-carbonated beverage, shower gel and ready-to-eat soup. Each product had three to four different packaging alternatives. The packaging cradle-to-grave life cycles were defined in terms of materials and processes and included detailed parametrisation of the end-of-life. Packaging-related product losses have been included in EnvPack. For the impact assessment of the product-packaging combinations, four methods were included, each with a different perspective. These were a modified ReCiPe midpoint method, ReCiPe endpoint, cumulative energy demand and a Circular Economy method based on ReCiPe. Packaging for material analysis was collected at Dutch supermarkets. For establishing packaging-related product losses, explorative measurements were made. Microsoft Excel was used to construct EnvPack. Results and discussion: Researchers and design students can select up to four different packaging alternatives per product, including one self-designed packaging. Packaging-related product losses can be included or not in the assessment. For the beverage, an out-of-home consumption situation can be selected, which affects the end-of-life of the packaging. The contribution of several life cycle stages and of impact categories are presented as graphs for the design students; detailed tables are available for researchers. The tool compares two assessment methods at a time. The effect of different methods on the ranking of the packaging alternatives is a topic of the second part paper. Conclusions: In comparison with existing LCA-based packaging tools, EnvPack includes four different assessment methods that all offer a single score comparison of alternatives. EnvPack is freely available for participating Dutch universities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-914
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Volume24
Issue number5
Early online date14 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Keywords

  • Beverage
  • Circular economy
  • Environmental design tool
  • Packaging
  • Product loss
  • Shower gel
  • Soup

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