Assessment of the environmental profile of PLA, PET and PS clamshell containers using LCA methodology

Santosh Madival, Rafael Auras, Sher Paul Singh, Ramani Narayan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    • 92 Citations

    Abstract

    Life cycle assessments of bio-based polymer resin and products historically have shown favorable results in terms of environmental impacts and energy use compared to petroleum-based products. However, calculation of these impacts always depends on the system and boundary conditions considered during the study. This paper reports a cradle-to-cradle Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) in comparison with poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) and poly(styrene) (PS) thermoformed clamshell containers, used for packaging of strawberries with emphasis on different end-of-life scenarios. It considers all the inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and seed corn required for the growing and harvesting of corn used for manufacturing PLA. For PET and PS, the extraction of crude oil and the entire cracking processes from crude oil through styrene and ethylene glycol and terephathalic acid are considered. Global warming, aquatic acidification, aquatic eutrophication, aquatic ecotoxicity, ozone depletion, non-renewable energy and respiratory organics, land occupation and respiratory inorganics were the selected midpoint impact categories. The geographical scope of the study reflects data from Europe, North America and the Middle East. PET showed the highest overall values for all the impact categories, mainly due to the higher weight of the containers. The main impacts to the environment were the resin production and the transportation stage of the resins and containers. This implies that the transportation stage of the package is an important contributor to the environmental impact of the packaging systems, and that it cannot be diminished.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1183-1194
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Volume17
    Issue number13
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 2009

    Profile

    acid
    Polyethylene terephthalates
    Containers
    resin
    life cycle
    Resin
    Lactic acid
    Life cycle
    Resins
    Crude oil
    ethylene
    crude oil
    environmental impact
    maize
    Environmental impact
    Packaging
    Corn
    Styrene
    ozone depletion
    energy use

    Keywords

    • LCA
    • Packaging sustainability
    • PET
    • PLA
    • PS

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Strategy and Management

    Cite this

    Assessment of the environmental profile of PLA, PET and PS clamshell containers using LCA methodology. / Madival, Santosh; Auras, Rafael; Singh, Sher Paul; Narayan, Ramani.

    In: Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 17, No. 13, 09.2009, p. 1183-1194.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Madival, Santosh; Auras, Rafael; Singh, Sher Paul; Narayan, Ramani / Assessment of the environmental profile of PLA, PET and PS clamshell containers using LCA methodology.

    In: Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 17, No. 13, 09.2009, p. 1183-1194.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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