Purpose: The packaging system plays an essential role in the logistic chain and takes into account the rise in packaging demand and consumption. A study on sustainability was carried out through a comparative life cycle assessment in order to quantify and compare the environmental impacts of plastic, corrugated board and wood (solid, MDF and particleboard) crates used for food delivery. Single-use and multi-use systems were considered and compared. Methods: According to ISO 14040 and ISO 14044, the whole life cycle of crates was divided into four primary phases: raw materials acquisition, crate manufacturing, transport (including the reuse, if applicable) and final disposal. The functional unit used for this study was 1 crate with an external dimension of 400 × 600 × 240 mm and with an inner volume of 50 l. The comparison focused on the critical parameters expected to have a higher influence on the results, such as the distances for delivery and the number of reuses for multi-use crates. All input data came from sector studies, literature and Ecoinvent database. The results were evaluated according to 8 impact categories. Two sensitivity analyses were performed. Results and discussion: The most relevant impacts are linked to transport, electricity and raw materials contributions. Cumulative energy demand results show that the renewable energy resources in the case of plastic crates are about 3% while for the other type of crates exceed the 30% reaching the 77.5% in the case of solid wood crate. The environmental impacts result lower for multi-use plastic crate due to its possibility of being reused during its lifetime, avoiding the high impacts of the manufacturing. The best option among the single-use systems is the solid wood crate. The final results of the sensitivity analysis applied to the transport distances show that the impacts related to solid wood are more stable than plastic. Concerning the end-of-life scenarios, a significant decreasing (around 14.7%) in the global warming potential can be reached increasing the crates recycling till 100%. Conclusions and recommendations: The best crate materials are plastic crates if a recovery system is planned; otherwise, the best choice is the wood crate. It is preferable to use raw material, such as solid wood than processed material, such as particle board, MDF and corrugated board. In performing this type of analysis, it is important to have accurate data, preferentially primary data, in particular for plastic crates as evidenced by the sensitivity analysis.

Sustainable packaging: an evaluation of crates for food through a life cycle approach

Del Borghi A.;Moreschi L.;Gallo M.
2020

Abstract

Purpose: The packaging system plays an essential role in the logistic chain and takes into account the rise in packaging demand and consumption. A study on sustainability was carried out through a comparative life cycle assessment in order to quantify and compare the environmental impacts of plastic, corrugated board and wood (solid, MDF and particleboard) crates used for food delivery. Single-use and multi-use systems were considered and compared. Methods: According to ISO 14040 and ISO 14044, the whole life cycle of crates was divided into four primary phases: raw materials acquisition, crate manufacturing, transport (including the reuse, if applicable) and final disposal. The functional unit used for this study was 1 crate with an external dimension of 400 × 600 × 240 mm and with an inner volume of 50 l. The comparison focused on the critical parameters expected to have a higher influence on the results, such as the distances for delivery and the number of reuses for multi-use crates. All input data came from sector studies, literature and Ecoinvent database. The results were evaluated according to 8 impact categories. Two sensitivity analyses were performed. Results and discussion: The most relevant impacts are linked to transport, electricity and raw materials contributions. Cumulative energy demand results show that the renewable energy resources in the case of plastic crates are about 3% while for the other type of crates exceed the 30% reaching the 77.5% in the case of solid wood crate. The environmental impacts result lower for multi-use plastic crate due to its possibility of being reused during its lifetime, avoiding the high impacts of the manufacturing. The best option among the single-use systems is the solid wood crate. The final results of the sensitivity analysis applied to the transport distances show that the impacts related to solid wood are more stable than plastic. Concerning the end-of-life scenarios, a significant decreasing (around 14.7%) in the global warming potential can be reached increasing the crates recycling till 100%. Conclusions and recommendations: The best crate materials are plastic crates if a recovery system is planned; otherwise, the best choice is the wood crate. It is preferable to use raw material, such as solid wood than processed material, such as particle board, MDF and corrugated board. In performing this type of analysis, it is important to have accurate data, preferentially primary data, in particular for plastic crates as evidenced by the sensitivity analysis.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/1020616
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