Evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of condom production in Thailand

Warit Jawjit*, Prasert Pavasant, Carolien Kroeze, Jindee Tuffey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This study aims to analyse the potential environmental impact of natural rubber (NR) condoms over its entire life cycle. The environmental performance of the production process of NR condoms is also compared to that of synthetic polyisoprene (PI) condoms. Options to reduce the environmental impact of condom production are proposed and evaluated. The potential environmental impacts are quantified by life cycle assessment (LCA). The study takes a cradle-to-grave approach, and considers six phases: 1) fresh latex production, 2) concentrated latex production, 3) condom production, 4) condom use, 5) condom transportation, and 6) condom disposal. The comparative analysis of NR and PI condom production takes a gate-to-gate scope. The functional unit is one gross condom. The results indicate that the condom production phase has the largest share (34–73%) in the environmental impact during the life cycle of NR condoms, followed by the disposal phase (20–60%). Comparing the production of NR and PI condoms reveals that the production of PI condoms results in a 1.5–2.5 times higher environmental impacts than the NR condom production, due to higher electricity consumption, especially for the compounding, dipping, and leaching processes. Reduction of electricity use is a key measure to reduce the environmental impact. Combining natural gas with electricity for the dipping process is a promising option to reduce the electricity use; it results in ~10–17% reduction in environmental impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-114
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of integrative Environmental Sciences
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Life cycle assessment
  • Natural rubber condom
  • Polyisoprene condom
  • Rubber
  • Thailand

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