Improving the production chain with LCA and eco-design: application to cosmetic packaging
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One of the main drivers for companies to perform environmental improvements is economic benefit, either by obtaining a more valuable product or gaining new customers. Circular economy combines environmental improvements with these drivers to achieve higher and quicker benefits. This paper is a case study on packaging eco-design aligned with circular economy strategy along the production chain. Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to identify the product life cycle stages where the application of eco-design strategies would be more efficient (in this case, raw materials production from virgin petrochemicals). To improve the environmental profile of this packaging, virgin petrochemicals were partially replaced by mineral fillers (calcium carbonate based) or/and post-consumer recycled plastics. Different technically compliant cosmetic tubes were produced by collaboration between a company producing the plastic granulates with mineral fillers and a company producing the cosmetic tubes and cradle-to-gate LCA were performed. The replacement of virgin petrochemicals by mineral fillers helped to reduce the environmental impacts by an average of 12% and the use of post-consumer recycled plastic further decreased emissions up to 29% for 6 out of the 9 evaluated impact categories. The option with better environmental performance was also the one with lower economic costs. According to the involved companies, LCA combined with ecodesign helped to achieve efficient environmental and economic savings. The findings are important for the plastic packaging sector because they tackle with prime concerns, like plastic debris, climate change and resource depletion. They are of main interest for industrial activities where brand positioning is a priority (i.e. cosmetics).
Is part ofResources, Conservation and Recycling, December 2019, vol. 151
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