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Plastic Packaging: Best Options & Alternatives

Plastic Packaging, the Situation

The packaging market is under the influence of strong market and consumer-driven preferences. For example, the increasingly bad reputation of single-use plastics forces manufacturers to consider more recycled or bio-based alternatives. As our society slowly but steadily transitions towards a circular or closed-loop economy, the objective becomes to retain materials for as long as possible, reusing and recycling materials to minimize waste and reduce the need for additional resources.

When looking for the most environmentally friendly options for plastic packaging it is very important to be aware of the environmental impact of the different types of materials, production processes and techniques, and especially the end-of-life impact. It is becoming more important to understand the life cycle impact of products and services in order to improve efficiencies and set impact reduction goals.

Companies are also increasingly making sustainability claims based on the plastic or alternative packaging used for their products. Such claims need to be correctly grounded to ensure no liability, green washing or misleading the customers take place. Ecomatters supports companies in ensuring claims are valid and backed by quantitative data and calculations.

A carbon footprint calculation and life cycle assessment (LCA) are great tools for better understanding this environmental impact (CO2, water use, land use, energy use, toxicity etc.), and in identifying “hot spots” for efficient investments along a supply chain. For instance, materials that are particularly impactful to the environment, or use high amount of energy, can be clearly seen in the LCA results. This information is then used to select more efficient alternatives, resulting in direct or long-term cost savings.

LCA is a critical part of any sustainability strategy and supports a variety of calculations including:

Ecomatters Support

At Ecomatters, we have a long history in the field of Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) and conducting assessments. We focus on determining the methodologies that fit your needs best, and can help you with the preparation of product claims and environmental product sheets. We follow the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 guidelines and are proficient with the various types of assessment software (GaBi & SimaPro).

Specifically, when it comes to determining the most carbon friendly packaging options for plastics, bio-based and other alternatives, we support with:

  • Performing quantitative analyses evaluating environmental, economic and social aspects of services and products;
  • Calculating the carbon footprint of various plastic products;
  • Allocation of recycling processes in footprint calculations and LCA;
  • Correct end of life footprint allocations: Fate of materials, description of End of Life treatment, description of second or later life cycles, recycling;
  • Support companies in determining which sustainability claims can correctly be made on their plastic packaging products;
  • Recommendations on the optimal scenario from a carbon footprint perspective on the percentage of recycled content in plastic packaging;
  • Conducting Eco Efficiency analysis, including the environmental and financial elements.

Carbon footprint and LCA is a critical step in the development of a solid sustainability strategy, and Ecomatters can help you along the way. Check out our wide range of sustainability services or get in contact with us to see how we can help you develop effective sustainable strategies for the use of plastic products in your business.

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