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Life cycle assessment of drinks packaging: are there environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastics?

Life cycle assessment of drinks packaging: are there environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastics?
Life cycle assessment of drinks packaging: are there environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastics?
Global plastic production has been increasing annually sinceWorld War II and is currently at least 380 million tonnes. Plastic drinks packaging is ubiquitous; over 13 billion plastic bottles are used per year in the United Kingdom alone. Global concern about pollution from plastics in the seas and the environmental costs of plastics manufacture is rising. This study aimed to: i) review the costs, benefits, advantages and disadvantages of plastics as packaging materials and ii) use life cycle assessment to determine if there is less environmentally impactful beverage packaging than plastic bottles. As different beverages have different packaging needs, three categories were used: commonly used containers for milk, fruit juice and pressurised ‘fizzy’ drinks. The packaging types included in the assessment were glass bottles, aluminium cans, milk cartons, Tetra Pak, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and high-density polythene (HDPE) bottles. The ISO 14040:2006 and ISO 14044:2006 standards for life cycle assessment formed the basis of the methodology. The open source software openLCA was used to conduct the life cycle assessments and data was assembled from free LCA databases such as the European reference Life Cycle Database of the Joint Research Center (ELCD), existing life cycle assessments, scientific reports and peer reviewed literature. The functional unit was set at a container that held one litre of fluid. The results found that in each category there was a less impactful beverage packaging than plastic bottles. In the Pressurised Beverage Category, it was found that 100% recycled aluminium cans would be the least impactful option, in the Fruit Juice Beverage Category it was found that Tetra Pak would be the least impactful option and in the Milk Beverage Category it was found milk cartons would be the least impactful option
Brock, Alice
506feb54-f65a-46f1-b5fb-9ba4ac6e9b16
Williams, Ian
c9d674ac-ee69-4937-ab43-17e716266e22
Brock, Alice
506feb54-f65a-46f1-b5fb-9ba4ac6e9b16
Williams, Ian
c9d674ac-ee69-4937-ab43-17e716266e22

Brock, Alice and Williams, Ian (2019) Life cycle assessment of drinks packaging: are there environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastics? In Seventeenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium. 32 pp .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Global plastic production has been increasing annually sinceWorld War II and is currently at least 380 million tonnes. Plastic drinks packaging is ubiquitous; over 13 billion plastic bottles are used per year in the United Kingdom alone. Global concern about pollution from plastics in the seas and the environmental costs of plastics manufacture is rising. This study aimed to: i) review the costs, benefits, advantages and disadvantages of plastics as packaging materials and ii) use life cycle assessment to determine if there is less environmentally impactful beverage packaging than plastic bottles. As different beverages have different packaging needs, three categories were used: commonly used containers for milk, fruit juice and pressurised ‘fizzy’ drinks. The packaging types included in the assessment were glass bottles, aluminium cans, milk cartons, Tetra Pak, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and high-density polythene (HDPE) bottles. The ISO 14040:2006 and ISO 14044:2006 standards for life cycle assessment formed the basis of the methodology. The open source software openLCA was used to conduct the life cycle assessments and data was assembled from free LCA databases such as the European reference Life Cycle Database of the Joint Research Center (ELCD), existing life cycle assessments, scientific reports and peer reviewed literature. The functional unit was set at a container that held one litre of fluid. The results found that in each category there was a less impactful beverage packaging than plastic bottles. In the Pressurised Beverage Category, it was found that 100% recycled aluminium cans would be the least impactful option, in the Fruit Juice Beverage Category it was found that Tetra Pak would be the least impactful option and in the Milk Beverage Category it was found milk cartons would be the least impactful option

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Published date: October 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445243
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445243
PURE UUID: f3ef647d-6c4a-4fa5-9454-c12c2cc3787e
ORCID for Ian Williams: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0121-1219

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Date deposited: 26 Nov 2020 17:30
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:04

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