Re-use is among the most important tools to increase the lifetime of materials and products, preventing the generation of waste and reducing the need for final sinks, and this is especially true for packaging. For this reason, it is important to have an overview of the re-use of packaging items in Europe and to quantify the environmental benefits of such practice. The pluriannual research described in this paper has started with a qualitative and quantitative assessment about the practice of packaging re-use in Italy. Thirty-eight types of packaging items that are currently re-used were identified. For each of them, the constituent material, the market of use, the sector of use, the main basic characteristics (e.g., size and/or weight), the possible reconditioning process applied, and the type of service based on which is managed were defined. Then, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed for some of those packaging items that require a reconditioning process, i.e. intermediate bulk containers, steel drums for the transport of chemicals and petrochemical products, reusable plastic collapsible crates for fruit and vegetables distribution, and refillable glass bottles for the delivery of mineral water in the domestic and Horeca sector. For each typology, the life cycle perspective was used to assess the impacts of the packaging as a function of its number of uses (the so-called “rotations”) and to quantify the contribution of the main stages (production, reconditioning, distribution, and end of life) to the total impacts of the life cycle. Moreover, each assessment investigated if the analysed system based on re-use performs better than an equivalent system based on single use. These LCAs were performed mainly with primary data about the packaging system, collected through tailor-made questionnaires and field surveys at some facilities located in Northern Italy. The adopted methodology and the main results are reported in the paper.

Packaging re-use in the circular economy: an LCA evaluation for Italy

Lucia Rigamonti;Laura Biganzoli;Camilla Tua;Mario Grosso
2020

Abstract

Re-use is among the most important tools to increase the lifetime of materials and products, preventing the generation of waste and reducing the need for final sinks, and this is especially true for packaging. For this reason, it is important to have an overview of the re-use of packaging items in Europe and to quantify the environmental benefits of such practice. The pluriannual research described in this paper has started with a qualitative and quantitative assessment about the practice of packaging re-use in Italy. Thirty-eight types of packaging items that are currently re-used were identified. For each of them, the constituent material, the market of use, the sector of use, the main basic characteristics (e.g., size and/or weight), the possible reconditioning process applied, and the type of service based on which is managed were defined. Then, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed for some of those packaging items that require a reconditioning process, i.e. intermediate bulk containers, steel drums for the transport of chemicals and petrochemical products, reusable plastic collapsible crates for fruit and vegetables distribution, and refillable glass bottles for the delivery of mineral water in the domestic and Horeca sector. For each typology, the life cycle perspective was used to assess the impacts of the packaging as a function of its number of uses (the so-called “rotations”) and to quantify the contribution of the main stages (production, reconditioning, distribution, and end of life) to the total impacts of the life cycle. Moreover, each assessment investigated if the analysed system based on re-use performs better than an equivalent system based on single use. These LCAs were performed mainly with primary data about the packaging system, collected through tailor-made questionnaires and field surveys at some facilities located in Northern Italy. The adopted methodology and the main results are reported in the paper.
Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the International Sustainable Development Research Society
978-963-421-812-8
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11311/1167325
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