SUNConferences, COMA '13

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Appropriateness of Life Cycle Assessments for Product/Packaging Combinations
Eric Lutters, Ellen Oude Luttikhuis, Marten Toxopeus, Roland ten Klooster

Last modified: 2013-08-20


A life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool for determining the impact of a product or process on the environment. In such assessments, all steps in the life cycle of an artifact are taken into account, from raw materials to recycling or disposal. For calculating the environmental impact of packaging, it is important to take the life cycle of the packaging as well as the life cycle of the content (the product) into account, because these life cycles are strongly interrelated. A case study (the packaging of cheese) is used to substantiate these interrelations and the consequences thereof. Given the fact that different data sources, calculation methods, system boundaries and tools can be applied in life cycle assessments, the results are often ambiguous and non-decisive. The first step towards the development of adequate product/packaging combinations therefore relies on life cycle analyses that are appropriate and effective. Therefore, the focus of applied life cycle assessments must be in line with the specific field of expertise related to product/packaging combinations.

This publication addresses the data sources, calculation methods, system boundaries and tools that are involved in the life cycle assessment for product/packaging combinations. It aims at showing how the outcomes of assessment vary with these aspects. The case study is used to illustrate the results.

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