Purpose: In order to assess the environmental sustainability of food packaging, a scientific and quantitative approach should be adopted. The aim of this study is to carry out a comparative analysis of the environmental impact of different types of packaging materials adopted in the aseptic beverages field. The analysis takes into account the production process, the transport phases and the end of life management of the different packaging types, by evaluating three scenarios, such as recycling, thermo-valorisation with energy recovery, and landfill. The product considered for the comparison is an Extended Shelf Life (ESL) milk, which represents a commonly consumed food. One litre of ESL milk is used as the reference unit, and multilayer cartons, PET bottles labelled with sleever film and HDPE bottles are analysed as the packaging types. Design/methodology/approach: The environmental impact evaluation is carried out using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method. LCA is a technique that allows assessing and quantifying the environmental impacts of a product, process or activity. The entire life cycle of a product is considered, starting from raw material extraction, up to disposal. The analysis has been performed using the commercial software SimaPro, release 7.3.3. The main characteristics of each component of the three packaging types have been provided by packaging manufacturers, or directly calculated from data available in literature. The evaluation of the end of life impact has been performed considering the Italian scenario, using, in particular, the data of some specific Italian consortia. Other data for the inventory analysis phase are extrapolated from the SimaPro databases (e.g., Ecoinvent, Plastic Europe DB, etc.). Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) and CML2001 have been adopted as the impact assessment methods. In the last section of the work a sensitivity analysis is carried out. Originality/value The results of the analysis carried out show that multilayer carton generates lower environmental impact compared to PET bottle labelled with sleever film and HDPE bottle for all the eco-indicators considered. The higher impacts of HDPE and PET are mainly due to the manufacturing phase of the bottle, which is more energy-intensive than that of the cartons. However, for the polymeric packaging, weight reduction, improved manufacturing technology and innovative packaging system (blow moulding and filling) could significantly reduce the values of the main eco-indicators. Results of the sensitivity analysis confirm that the adoption of innovative industrial technologies influences the overall value of environmental impacts and may change the alternative’s ranking.
Analysis and Life Cycle comparison of different packaging systems in aseptic beverages sector / Bertolini, M.; Bottani, E.; Vignali, G.; Volpi, A.. - In: ...SUMMER SCHOOL FRANCESCO TURCO. PROCEEDINGS. - ISSN 2283-8996. - 11-13-:(2013), pp. 185-190. ((Intervento presentato al convegno 18th Summer School Francesco Turco 2013 tenutosi a Senigallia (Italy) nel 11-13 settembre 2013.