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Proposal of Package-to-Product Indicator for Carbon Footprint Assessment with Focus on the Czech Republic

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Today, packaging is an integral part of most foods and beverages. However, excessive and just one-time applications of packaging can bring about indisputable environmental impacts in the form of large amounts of waste generated. If we want to monitor the environmental impacts of packaging materials, it is advisable to assess them in a complex way including not only the specific packaging but also specific products. No universal methodology currently exists that would enable this type of complex assessment regarding the environmental impacts of packaging in relation to particular products. Therefore, the aim of our study was to develop and test a Package-to-Product (PtP) indicator. For this purpose, the life cycle assessment (LCA) was employed to analyse four selected products considering different life cycle stages of packaging and their impacts on the climate change category. The results of the study confirm that the values of the PtP indicator significantly differ for various products, thus emphasising the need to establish a uniform methodology for individual product groups, such as meat, dairy and vegetable products or beverages. The application of this indicator, however, enables a clear impact assessment of different packaging materials and allows the packaging manufacturers to reduce their overall environmental impacts.
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sustainability
Article
Proposal of Package-to-Product Indicator for Carbon
Footprint Assessment with Focus on the
Czech Republic
Markéta Šerešováand Vladimír Koˇcí*
Department of Environmental Chemistry, University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Technická5,
166 28 Prague, Czech Republic; marketa.seresova@vscht.cz
*Correspondence: vlad.koci@vscht.cz
Received: 18 March 2020; Accepted: 8 April 2020; Published: 10 April 2020


Abstract:
Today, packaging is an integral part of most foods and beverages. However, excessive
and just one-time applications of packaging can bring about indisputable environmental impacts in
the form of large amounts of waste generated. If we want to monitor the environmental impacts of
packaging materials, it is advisable to assess them in a complex way including not only the specific
packaging but also specific products. No universal methodology currently exists that would enable
this type of complex assessment regarding the environmental impacts of packaging in relation to
particular products. Therefore, the aim of our study was to develop and test a Package-to-Product
(PtP) indicator. For this purpose, the life cycle assessment (LCA) was employed to analyse four
selected products considering dierent life cycle stages of packaging and their impacts on the climate
change category. The results of the study confirm that the values of the PtP indicator significantly
dier for various products, thus emphasising the need to establish a uniform methodology for
individual product groups, such as meat, dairy and vegetable products or beverages. The application
of this indicator, however, enables a clear impact assessment of dierent packaging materials and
allows the packaging manufacturers to reduce their overall environmental impacts.
Keywords:
life cycle assessment; food packaging; environmental impacts; sustainable development;
circular economy; package to product
1. Introduction
The amount of packaging waste is constantly growing. According to Eurostat data for the year of
2017, EU generated 31.2 million tonnes of waste from paper and cardboard packaging, 14.5 million
tonnes of waste from plastic, followed by 14 million tonnes of glass, 13 million tonnes of wood
packaging waste, and almost 4 million tonnes of metallic packaging waste. This means that in 2017,
the average European citizen produced around 173 kg of packaging waste [
1
]. It is now estimated that
two-thirds of all household packaging come from the food industry [2].
Increasing amounts of packaging waste cause undeniable environmental impacts, especially in
the form of excessive consumption of primary raw materials in their production phase as well as in
the phase of their disposal, when large amounts still end up in landfills or worse, as litter. Recently,
society has also been showing a growing concern about the environmental problems associated with
the world’s oceans being polluted and littered with various types of packaging materials, especially
plastics [3,4].
To eectively prevent the generation of packaging waste, it is first appropriate to quantify its
environmental impacts associated with its entire life cycle, from the production stage to its disposal.
Dierent types of packaging materials have dierent environmental impacts at dierent stages of
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034; doi:10.3390/su12073034 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 2 of 17
their life cycles. While certain types of packaging are energetically demanding at their production
stage, e.g., paper packaging [
5
], other types produce hazardous waste and significant amounts of
atmospheric emissions during the production of primary materials, e.g., aluminium packaging [
6
].
Certain packaging may then be dicult to recycle, e.g., liquid packaging board [
7
]. Last but not
least, packaging can also be made from materials that can decompose very slowly and bring other
environmental problems this way, e.g., plastic packaging [
8
]. As already indicated, the handling and
disposal of packaging after the end of its life cycle also plays quite an important role, since dierent
impacts are caused by the packaging disposed at landfills compared to the packaging recycled for
energy or material generation. In this respect, it is important to consider not only the type of raw
materials from which the packaging is made but also their quantities [9,10].
As already mentioned, the primary role of food packaging is to protect and preserve food and
beverages. In other words, packaging helps prevent food waste. Since the packaging is a part of the
product, together they form one system. For this reason, it is appropriate to monitor the food and
its package as one entity and assess the environmental impacts of both of its constituents. In that
regard, it is worth mentioning that the overall environmental impact of food production is usually
many times greater than the impact of its packaging [
10
,
11
]. Additionally, it is generally true that the
environmental impacts of animal products tend to be higher than those of plant products [12].
It follows that, in order to compare individual packaging materials and types of packaging, it is
necessary to evaluate the packages together with the respective product considering their entire life
cycle. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is one of the few analytical methods currently available to cover all
the dierent stages of the packaging life cycle and to assess their environmental impacts. Currently,
however, there exists no uniform methodology that comprehensively compares the environmental
impacts of the entire life cycle of packaging materials to the specific products they are used for. Such
a methodology is much needed as it could serve as a tool to prevent the generation of unnecessary
packaging waste. That is why this study focused on the development of a Package-to-Product (PtP)
indicator, which would be able to analyse the environmental impacts of products and their packaging,
thus serving as a waste prevention tool.
The aim of the study was: to create an indicator assessing the environmental impacts of the
packaging together with the corresponding product and test the validity of the indicator in selected
case studies focused on food packaging.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Types of Packaging
Food packaging is generally divided into three main groups: primary, secondary, and tertiary
packaging. The groups are defined in more detail below.
2.1.1. Primary Packaging
The principal function of the primary or consumer packaging is to protect the products which
the packaging is in direct contact with. The primary packaging further facilitates the handling and
transport of products and, last but not least, it serves for marketing and information purposes. In this
study, we looked at several types of packaging from dierent materials, such as glass, plastic, paper
or fabric.
2.1.2. Secondary Packaging
Secondary packaging or group packaging facilitates the transport of multiple primary packages
within a product distribution chain. Most often, these packages are made of paper, wood, plastic or
various foils. Secondary packaging may usually be used multiple times.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 3 of 17
2.1.3. Tertiary Packaging
The purpose of tertiary or transport packaging is to provide for the product transport. The most
common type of tertiary packaging is a wooden or plastic pallet in combination with a stretch foil.
Tertiary packaging is usually used multiple times.
2.2. Life Cycle Assessment
To create the PtP indicator, the LCA method was used enabling its testing on case studies. The
LCA study was conducted in accordance with international standards ISO 14040 and 14044 [
13
,
14
].
LCA is an information analysis tool that can be used to quantify the potential environmental impact of
a product or service. This method evaluates all inputs and outputs that interact with the environment
of a given system, considering its entire life cycle. The evaluation, therefore, includes the processes
of raw material acquisition, production of materials, consumed energy, production of waste, and
emissions released into individual environmental compartments after the product life cycle ends [
15
].
2.2.1. System Boundaries and Functional Unit
For the purpose of the study, it was necessary to define a so-called functional unit to which all
material and energy flows and the related environmental impacts. A functional unit was defined as
“1000 kg of a product packaged in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging”. In order to verify
the PtP indicator, we focused on its application to assess four examples of packaged products. The
packaged products evaluated included cow’s milk, water, pork, and peas. The first product selected
for assessment was cow’s milk. According to Czech Statistical Oce data, in the Czech Republic in
2017, milk consumption was 240 L per capita on average. As milk is the most produced dairy product
in the Czech Republic, cow’s milk was chosen as the representative for this category. Secondly, we
evaluated bottled drinking water. Since both mineral water and soda water represent a significant part
of the packaged beverage market in the Czech Republic (approximately 35%), drinking water was
selected as a representative of soft drinks. The Czech Republic is a major consumer of pork, and in
2017, it consumed 42 kg on average per capita. As far as the representation of the Czech meat market
is concerned, pork represents more than 50% of all the consumption and was, therefore, selected as
the third product to be assessed. The last product evaluated is peas and its packaging options. Peas
were chosen as a representative of the legume group, because in this category, it shows the highest
average consumption in the Czech Republic [
16
]. Peas can also be considered a representative of
vegetarian food.
The life cycle of each product under consideration consists of a variety of processes. The system
boundaries determine which processes are significant for a given product system and need to be
evaluated in the study [
15
]. Figure 1represents the system boundaries as defined in our research. For
the purpose of this work, the product manufacturing and life cycles of primary, secondary and tertiary
packaging were assessed. Within the boundaries of the product life cycle of packaging materials, the
study also analysed the packaging production; i.e., obtaining primary raw materials, energy production
demand, transport and possible ways of ending the packaging life cycle. The usage phase of the
packaging is assumed not to produce environmental impacts. Therefore, this phase was excluded
from the boundaries of the systems assessed. As the study does not focus on food waste issues, the
end-of-life cycle of the packaged product is not included in the system boundaries either.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 4 of 17
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 18
Figure 1. System boundaries of investigated Package-to-Product system.
2.2.2. Assumptions Accepted in the Study:
For the purpose of this study, generic data from the thinkstep [17] and ecoinvent [18] databases
were used concerning the production of individual foods and packaging;
To model electricity production, the Czech energy mix was used based on the data from the
reference year of 2016;
The number of possible uses (re-circulation) of refundable glass was set to 30 [19];
The number of possible uses of plastic crates was set to 30 [19];
The number of possible uses of wooden pallets was set to 25 [19];
The materials used for the packaging were modelled as the materials derived from the primary
raw materials;
Figure 1. System boundaries of investigated Package-to-Product system.
2.2.2. Assumptions Accepted in the Study:
For the purpose of this study, generic data from the thinkstep [
17
] and ecoinvent [
18
] databases
were used concerning the production of individual foods and packaging;
To model electricity production, the Czech energy mix was used based on the data from the
reference year of 2016;
The number of possible uses (re-circulation) of refundable glass was set to 30 [19];
The number of possible uses of plastic crates was set to 30 [19];
The number of possible uses of wooden pallets was set to 25 [19];
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 5 of 17
The materials used for the packaging were modelled as the materials derived from the primary
raw materials;
Packaging labels and stickers were not included in the study;
The methods of transport and the transport distance were modelled for the production of the
products and their packaging according to the recommendation of Guidance for the development
of Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules - PEF [19]:
#
Transport distance of packaging from a supplier to a processor within Europe was set to
230 km of truck transport, 280 km of rail transport, 360 km of shipping;
#
Transport of products from a supplier to a processor within Europe was set to 130 km of
truck transport, 240 km of rail transport, 270 km of shipping.
For the transport of packaging to the place of material recovery after the end-of-its-life cycle, the
packaging is supposed to be transported by trucks over the distance of 250 km. In the case of
transport to places of energy recovery, the average distance is estimated to be 150 km and the
transport distance of packaging to a landfill is expected to be ca. 50 km.
2.2.3. End-of-Life Scenarios
Environmental impacts of the product life cycle can be significantly aected by the way the
product is handled at the end of its cycle: the packaging can be used for material or energy recovery, or
it can be disposed at a landfill. Four end-of-life (EoL) scenarios were developed for the purpose of
this study. Since the validity testing of the PtP indicator was focused on the Czech Republic, the first
EoL scenario considers the value of average waste management in the Czech Republic, where, after
the EoL life cycle, the expectations are as follows: 39 wt. % of waste material recovery, 18 wt. % of
energy recovery, and 53 wt. % of waste disposal at a landfill [
20
]. In the case of pallets and cotton,
their material recovery is not considered in this EoL scenario, but 50 wt. % are expected to be utilised
energetically while the other 50 wt. % are assumed to end up landfilled. The second scenario represents
the situation where all the packaging is 100% energetically utilised in an incineration plant. The third
scenario assumes 100% material recovery of packaging; in the case of textiles, wood pallets and waxed
paper, energy recovery is expected instead of the material recovery. In the case of recycling the liquid
packaging board materials, the utilization of the packaging is considered for its paper portion while
aluminium and segments are assumed to be landfilled [
7
]. The last scenario then assumes landfilling
of all types of packaging.
2.3. Life Cycle Inventory
Data on the primary, secondary and tertiary product packaging was obtained from the literature,
communication with experts and manufacturers, and it was also based on our measurements. For each
product, a model was created in the GaBi 8 software [
17
]. Individual products and packaging methods
are listed below.
2.3.1. Cow’s Milk
This study assessed 4 types of primary packaging for milk, namely polyethylene terephthalate
(PET) bottles with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) caps, non-refundable glass, liquid packaging
board and LDPE bags with polypropylene (PP) caps. The first three types are most often used for
packing milk in the Czech Republic while HDPE bags are used rarely. The systems assessed dier only
in the type of primary and secondary packaging and in the weight of the tertiary packaging, namely
wooden pallet and light density polyethylene (LDPE) foil. Table 1presents the types of packaged milk
considered in this study.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 6 of 17
Table 1. Investigated cow’s milk packaging - average weight per kg of product.
Primary
Packaging
Material
Primary
Pack.
weight per 1
kg of
Product [g]
Secondary
Packaging
Material
Secondary
Pack.
Weight per 1
kg of
Product [g]
Tertiary
Packaging
Material
Tertiary
Pack.
Weight per 1
kg of
Product [g]
Source of
Data
PET bottle,
HDPE cap
35.7
3.0
HDPE foil
Corrugated
cardboard
box
2.9
4.4
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
29.6
0.1
[21,22],
Producer of
pack. mat.
Non-refundable
glass bottle
metal cap
410.0
2.0
HDPE foil
Corrugated
cardboard
box
4.00 ×102
29.0
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
29.6
0.1
[22,23],
Producer of
pack. mat.
Liquid
packaging
board
HDPE cap
30.7
1.7
LDPE foil
Corrugated
cardboard
box
0.5
13.9
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
25.0
0.1
[21,22,24],
Producer of
pack. mat.
LDPE bag
PP cap
3.8
5.8
LDPE foil
Corrugated
cardboard
box
0.03
7.00 ×102
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
25.0
0.1
[25],
Producer of
pack. mat.
2.3.2. Drinking Water
Table 2lists the types of drinking water packages evaluated in the study. The primary packaging
types are PET bottles with HDPE caps, refundable glass bottles and non-refundable glass bottles with
metal caps and HDPE bags. The first three types of primary packaging are used for packing drinking
water in the Czech Republic, while HDPE bags are not used for this product in this region. Secondary
packaging varies in the material used (LDPE, HDPE) and its weight. Tertiary containers (wooden
pallet, HDPE foil) also dier in weight.
Table 2. Investigated water packaging - average packaging weight per kg of product.
Primary
Packaging
Material
Primary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Secondary
Packaging
Material
Secondary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Tertiary
Packaging
Material
Tertiary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Source of
Data
Material
PET bottle
HDPE cap
21.3
1.3 LDPE foil 2.0
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
29.6
0.1
[21],
Own
measurement,
Producer of
pack. mat.
Refundable
glass bottle
Metal cap
629.0
4.3 HDPE crate 4.8
Wooden
pallet
LDPE foil
4.8
0.1
[21,26],
Producer of
pack. mat.
Non-refundable
glass bottle
metal cap
629.0
4.3
Cardboard
box, LDPE
foil
29; 0.04
Wooden
pallet
LDPE foil
4.8
0.1
[21],
Producer of
pack. mat.
HDPE sack 6.0 LDPE sack 2.0
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
2.5
2.50 ×102
Own
assumption,
Producer of
pack. mat.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 7 of 17
2.3.3. Pork
This study evaluated four fresh meat packaging systems as presented in Table 3. Primary
packaging under consideration involves polystyrene (PS) trays with an LDPE foil, aluminium foil,
waxed paper and paper with an HDPE foil. The secondary packaging is made of HDPE in all instances,
while the tertiary packaging is made of LDPE. In the Czech Republic, PS trays, waxed paper and paper
with an HDPE foil are the materials frequently used for meat packaging. In general, the aluminium
foil is not used for packing fresh meat in the Czech Republic, but it has still been included in the study
on account of its possible, theoretical use.
Table 3. Investigated pork meat packaging - average packaging weight per kg of product.
Primary
Packaging
Material
Primary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Secondary
Packaging
Material
Secondary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Tertiary
Packaging
Material
Tertiary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Source of
Data
Material
PS Tray
LDPE foil
17.8
0.2 HDPE 0.4 LDPE tray 34.0 [27,28], Own
measurement
Aluminium
foil 20.0 HDPE 0.4 LDPE tray 34.0
[27],
Own
measurement
Waxed paper
2.0 HDPE 0.4 LDPE tray 34.0
[27],
Own
measurement
Paper
HDPE foil
33.0
9.0 HDPE 0.4 LDPE tray 34.0
[27],
Own
measurement
2.3.4. Peas
Our study evaluated four packaging systems of peas as presented in the following Table 4. The
primary packaging assessed here is a corrugated cardboard box, PP, cotton and paper sacks. The
secondary packaging diers in the type of material applied (corrugated cardboard, LDPE) and its
weight. Tertiary packaging is assumed to be the same for all packaging methods (wooden pallets,
HDPE foil).
Table 4. Investigated peas packaging - average packaging weight per kg of product.
Primary
Packaging
Material
Primary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Secondary
Packaging
Material
Secondary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Tertiary
Packaging
Material
Tertiary
Pack.
Weight per
1 kg of
Product [g]
Source of
Data
Material
Corrugated
cardboard
box
50.0
Corrugated
cardboard
box
25.0
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
29.6
0.1
Producer of
pack. mat.
PP sack 12.0
Corrugated
cardboard
box
27.3
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
24.2
0.1
Producer of
pack. mat.
Cotton sack 80.0
Corrugated
cardboard
box
27.3
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
24.2
0.1
Own
assumption,
Producer of
pack. mat.
Paper sack 8.0 LDPE 2.0
Wooden
pallet
HDPE foil
25.0
0.1
Producer of
pack. mat.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 8 of 17
2.4. Calculation of PtP Indicator Focused on Carbon Footprint
In order to compare the impacts of individual systems with each other and to interpret the results
of their environmental impacts, the calculation of the PtP indicator was designed based on the ratio of
the climate change (CC) indicator of the impact category for the assessed packaging (labelled with the
CC
Pa
index) and the product (labelled with the index CC
Pr
). For the purpose of this study, the impact
category climate change of the Product Environmental Footprint Methodology 3.0 was selected since
this methodology is recommended by the European Commission to evaluate the product environmental
footprint. [
29
]. Focus on the CC category was primarily selected because of the long-term increase in
greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and the impact this trend has on climate change [30,31].
PtPCC (%) =ΣCCPa/ΣCCPr * 100
PtP values represent the ratio of the environmental impacts of the packaging when compared to
the packaged product. The higher the PtP ratio, the more significant the environmental impact of the
packaging system. In order to prevent the occurrence of the environmental impacts, it is appropriate to
quantify the potentially occurring impacts first and then consider the possibilities of reducing them.
On the basis of the PtP indicator, it is also possible to determine the so-called hot-spots or stages in the
packaging life cycle responsible for the greatest environmental impacts.
Data Evaluation
To test the variation partitioning of the explanatory factor that was climate change values for its
eects on dependent variables, the principal component analysis (PCA) was computed in CANOCO
5 [
32
]. Cow’s milk, water, pork, peas and all packaging materials were used as the responses to the
explanatory variable.
3. Results
Product Environmental Footprint Methodology 3.0, namely its midpoint category of climate
change impact, was used to test the validity of the proposed PtP indicator. The results are presented in
two sections. Tables 58illustrate the individual life cycle contributions of primary, secondary and
tertiary packaging and those of the product to the climate change impact category. As the research
examines the validity of the PtP indicator within the scope of a case study focused on the Czech Republic,
the results of the climate change parameter values are first presented for the EoL Czech mix scenario,
then energy recovery, material recovery and landfilling scenario expressed in absolute values in kg
CO
2
eq. units. The validity of the indicator was verified in Figures 25together with the identification
of the PtP values for individual products and packaging. To assess the environmental impacts of
dierent EoL packaging material scenarios, the specific PtP values are presented for each scenario.
Table 5.
Presentation of environmental impacts on the climate change category associated with life
cycles of primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging for individual milk packaging systems and four
end-of-life packaging management scenarios. The functional unit was defined as “1000 kg of product
packed in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging” The results are expressed in kg CO2eq.
Packaging System
CZ EoL Mix
[kg CO2eq.]
Energy Recovery [kg
CO2eq.]
Material Recovery
[kg CO2eq.]
Landfilling
[kg CO2eq.]
Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter
Liquid packaging board
71.1 22.4 7.2 78.9 16.2 6.5 52.0 3.7 5.7 99.6 34.6 8.3
PET bottle 156.6 16.4 8.5 271.0 18.9 7.7 27.7 10.5 6.7 189.0 18.8 9.8
LDPE bag 15.2 0.5 7.2 26.5 0.9 6.3 8.8 0.3 5.7 14.8 0.6 8.3
Non-refundable glass 299.0 47.4 8.5 43.0 28.0 7.7 54.5 18.8 6.7 386.0 69.4 9.8
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 9 of 17
Table 6.
Presentation of environmental impacts on the climate change category associated with life
cycles of primary, secondary, tertiary packaging for individual water packaging systems and four
end-of-life packaging management scenarios. The functional unit was defined as “1000 kg of product
packed in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging” The results are expressed in kg CO2eq.
Packaging System
CZ EoL Mix
[kg CO2eq.]
Energy Recovery
[kg CO2eq.]
Material Recovery
[kg CO2eq.]
Landfilling
[kg CO2eq.]
Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter
PET bottle
106.0
12.3 8.5
160.0
18.7 7.7 61.9 5.9 6.7
112.0
13.6 9.8
HDPE sack 16.0 3.4 5.7 28.1 9.9 6.5 9.7 3.4 5.7 15.3 5.7 8.3
Non-refundable glass
459.0
47.3 2.9
669.0
28.7 2.9 84.5 18.6 2.3
593.0
69.3 3.3
Refundable glass 49.1 0.4 2.9 54.0 0.7 2.9 34.5 0.2 2.3 51.5 0.4 3.3
Table 7.
Presentation of environmental impacts on the climate change category associated with life
cycles of primary, secondary, tertiary packaging for individual pork packaging systems and four
end-of-life packaging management scenarios. The functional unit was defined as “1000 kg of product
packed in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging” The results are expressed in kg CO2 eq.
Packaging System
CZ EoL Mix
[kg CO2eq.]
Energy Recovery
[kg CO2eq.]
Material Recovery
[kg CO2eq.]
Landfilling
[kg CO2eq.]
Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter
PS tray 63.1 1.1 2.2 111.0 1.9 3.6 16.8 0.7 1.4 72.2 1.1 2.2
Aluminium foil 120.0 1.1 2.2 42.4 1.9 3.6 38.3 0.7 1.4 191.0 1.1 2.2
Waxed paper 2.2 1.1 2.2 0.8 1.9 3.6 0.8 0.7 1.4 3.6 1.1 2.2
Paper/Plastic sack 34.0 1.1 2.2 12.0 1.9 3.6 4.0 0.7 1.4 57.9 1.1 2.2
Table 8.
Presentation of environmental impacts on the climate change category associated with life
cycles of primary, secondary, tertiary packaging for individual peas packaging systems and four
end-of-life packaging management scenarios. The functional unit was defined as “1000 kg of product
packed in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging” The results are expressed in kg CO2eq.
Packaging System
CZ EoL Mix
[kg CO2eq.]
Energy Recovery [kg
CO2eq.]
Material Recovery
[kg CO2eq.]
Landfilling
[kg CO2eq.]
Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter
PP sack 29.8 24.1 6.7 57.3 8.2 6.0 18.6 2.6 5.4 31.7 46.4 7.9
Cardboard box 81.5 40.8 8.4 49.5 24.7 7.3 32.1 16.0 6.6 120.0 59.8 9.6
Cotton sack 810.0 26.8 6.8 763.0 8.2 6.0 763.0 2.6 5.4 856.0 46.4 7.9
Paper sack 7.9 3.7 7.0 2.4 8.5 6.5 0.8 1.5 5.7 13.6 4.2 8.3
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 18
Figure 2. Results of PtP ratio for cow’s milk and its individual packaging systems considering
primary, secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various
scenarios for the handling of packaging material at the end-of-itslife cycle, namely the expected EoL
mix in the Czech Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are
presented as a percentage of PtP.
3.2. Water
Compared with all the other products, water is an exception because the product itself has a
very low environmental impact of 0.234 kg CO2 eq. Again, similar to other evaluated products,
primary packaging still shows the highest impact of all the packaging systems monitored. The lowest
environmental impact of 25.1 kg CO2 eq. in the CZ EoL mix scenario is displayed by the system of
packing drinking water in an HDPE bag, while the highest impact of 509.2 kg CO2 eq. is shown by
water packaged in non-refundable glass. In the case of secondary and tertiary packaging, the highest
environmental impacts are again associated with glass packaging. For non-refundable glass, the
secondary packaging shows the impact of 47.3 kg CO2 eq. and the tertiary packaging just 2.9 kg CO2
eq., as it can be seen in Table 6.
Table 6. Presentation of environmental impacts on the climate change category associated with life
cycles of primary, secondary, tertiary packaging for individual water packaging systems and four
end-of-life packaging management scenarios. The functional unit was defined as “1000 kg of product
packed in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging” The results are expressed in kg CO2 eq.
Packaging System
CZ EoL Mix
[kg CO2 eq.]
Energy Recovery
[kg CO2 eq.]
Material Recovery
[kg CO2 eq.]
Landfilling
[kg CO2 eq.]
Prim Sec Te
r
Prim Sec Te
r
Prim Sec Te
r
Prim Sec Te
PET bottle 106.0 12.3 8.5 160.0 18.7 7.7 61.9 5.9 6.7 112.0 13.6 9.8
HDPE sack 16.0 3.4 5.7 28.1 9.9 6.5 9.7 3.4 5.7 15.3 5.7 8.3
Non-refundable
glass 459.0 47.3 2.9 669.0 28.7 2.9 84.5 18.6 2.3 593.0 69.3 3.3
Refundable glass 49.1 0.4 2.9 54.0 0.7 2.9 34.5 0.2 2.3 51.5 0.4 3.3
As can be seen in Figure 3, the PtP values are reported in thousands to hundreds of thousands
per cent due to a lower order of magnitude of the environmental impacts associated with drinking
water production. Similar to milk, the CZ EoL mix trends are copied in other EoL methods. The
lowest ratio of PtP is manifested by the system of packing water into an HDPE bag, in case of its
material recovery, it was 8009%. The highest PtP ratio is represented by the system of packaging
water into non-refundable glass in case of its energy utilisation, which was 299380%. Based on the
results, the most suitable EoL for a glass bottle would be its material recovery where the PtP values
do not exceed 45021%.
Figure 2.
Results of PtP ratio for cow’s milk and its individual packaging systems considering primary,
secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various scenarios for the
handling of packaging material at the end-of-itslife cycle, namely the expected EoL mix in the Czech
Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are presented as a percentage
of PtP.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 10 of 17
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 18
Figure 3. Results of PtP ratio for water and its individual packaging systems considering primary,
secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various scenarios for
the handling of packaging material at the end-of-its-life cycle, namely the expected EoL mix in the
Czech Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are presented as a
percentage of PtP.
3.3. Pork
Pork has the environmental impact of 8980 kg CO2 eq., the highest of all the products under
review. When comparing individual packaging methods presented in Table 7, the lowest
environmental impact in the CZ EOL mix scenario is displayed by waxed paper, 5.6 kg CO2 eq. On
the other hand, the system of packaging meat in aluminium packaging shows the highest impact,
namely 123.3 kg CO2 eq. In cases of secondary and tertiary packaging, the environmental impacts are
the same for all packaging systems, specifically 1.1 kg CO2 eq. and 2.2 kg CO2 eq.
Table 7. Presentation of environmental impacts on the climate change category associated with life
cycles of primary, secondary, tertiary packaging for individual pork packaging systems and four end-
of-life packaging management scenarios. The functional unit was defined as “1000 kg of product
packed in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging” The results are expressed in kg CO2 eq.
Packaging
System
CZ EoL Mix [kg
CO2 eq.]
Energy Recovery
[kg CO2 eq.]
Material Recovery
[kg CO2 eq.]
Landfilling [kg
CO2 eq.]
Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter
PS tray 63.1 1.1 2.2 111.0 1.9 3.6 16.8 0.7 1.4 72.2 1.1 2.2
Aluminium
foil 120.0 1.1 2.2 42.4 1.9 3.6 38.3 0.7 1.4 191.0 1.1 2.2
Waxed paper 2.2 1.1 2.2 0.8 1.9 3.6 0.8 0.7 1.4 3.6 1.1 2.2
Paper/Plastic
sack 34.0 1.1 2.2 12.0 1.9 3.6 4.0 0.7 1.4 57.9 1.1 2.2
Given the very high environmental impact values of the product compared to all packaging
materials, PtP for pork is the lowest, namely up to 2.2%. The lowest PtP in total was demonstrated
by 0.03% of wax paper recycling. The highest PtP was then shown by the aluminium packaging
reaching 2.2%. Based on the results in Figure 4, it can be concluded that material recycling of all
selected types of packaging has the lowest potential environmental impact.
Figure 3.
Results of PtP ratio for water and its individual packaging systems considering primary,
secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various scenarios for
the handling of packaging material at the end-of-its-life cycle, namely the expected EoL mix in the
Czech Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are presented as a
percentage of PtP.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 18
Figure 4. Results of PtP ratio for pork and its individual packaging systems considering primary,
secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various scenarios for
the handling of packaging material at the end-of-its-life cycle, namely the expected EoL mix in the
Czech Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are presented as a
percentage of PtP.
3.4. Peas
Production of peas has a relatively low environmental impact of 853 kg CO2 eq. Based on the
results of the comparison of the packaging systems selected as presented in Table 8, it can be
concluded that the lowest environmental impacts of pea packaging in the CZ EoL mix scenario are
associated with the paper bag packaging system, namely 18.6 kg CO2 eq. The highest impact is shown
when packing peas in a cotton bag, namely 843.6 kg CO2 eq., which is almost equal to the
environmental impact of the product itself. The PP bag packaging system has a relatively low impact
of 60.6 kg CO2 eq. In the case of secondary and tertiary packaging, the highest environmental impacts
are associated with corrugated cardboard box packaging. In this case, the secondary packaging shows
40.8 kg CO2 eq. and tertiary packaging 8.4 kg CO2 eq.
Table 8. Presentation of environmental impacts on the climate change category associated with life
cycles of primary, secondary, tertiary packaging for individual peas packaging systems and four end-
of-life packaging management scenarios. The functional unit was defined as “1000 kg of product
packed in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging” The results are expressed in kg CO2 eq.
Packaging
System
CZ EoL Mix
[kg CO2 eq.]
Energy Recovery
[kg CO2 eq.]
Material Recovery
[kg CO2 eq.]
Landfilling
[kg CO2 eq.]
Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter Prim Sec Ter
PP sack 29.8 24.1 6.7 57.3 8.2 6.0 18.6 2.6 5.4 31.7 46.4 7.9
Cardboard
box 81.5 40.8 8.4 49.5 24.7 7.3 32.1 16.0 6.6 120.0 59.8 9.6
Cotton sack 810.0 26.8 6.8 763.0 8.2 6.0 763.0 2.6 5.4 856.0 46.4 7.9
Paper sack 7.9 3.7 7.0 2.4 8.5 6.5 0.8 1.5 5.7 13.6 4.2 8.3
The PtPs for each pea packaging system are presented in Figure 5. According to the results, the
system of wrapping peas in a cotton bag appears to be the least environmentally friendly option in
all of the EoL scenarios. On the other hand, the lowest PtP ratio in all of the EoL scenarios was shown
by the paper sack packaging system. Based on the results, it can be stated that from the point of view
of the environmental impacts, the most suitable EoL method is the material recovery of the packaging
while the least environmentally friendly option is landfilling, here showing the PtP values of 106.7%.
Figure 4.
Results of PtP ratio for pork and its individual packaging systems considering primary,
secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various scenarios for
the handling of packaging material at the end-of-its-life cycle, namely the expected EoL mix in the
Czech Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are presented as a
percentage of PtP.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 13 of 18
Figure 5. Results of PtP ratio for peas and its individual packaging systems considering primary,
secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various scenarios for
the handling of packaging material at the end-of-its-life cycle, namely the expected EoL mix in the
Czech Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are presented as a
percentage of PtP.
To test the dependence of the climate change (CC) indicator values on the parameters of
individual packaging and the products and for further verification of the PtP indicator, we used the
PCA method, as can be seen in Figure 6. In this figure, individual products packed in different
packaging materials were broken down into clusters that determine their mutual similarity, also
considering the dependence on the impacts of the packaging materials and the products. The X-axis
in the graph expressing PC1 explains 75.4% variability, while the Y-axis expressing PC2 explains
19.2% of the variability. Distances between different products in different packages are thus
represented by more significant attributes in the horizontal direction than in the vertical direction.
The values on the left in the upper half of the graph indicate that the predominant effects of the
environmental impacts stem from the products alone. The marked cluster then shows which
packaging materials in the CZ EoL scenario are the most appropriate with regard to the overall
environmental impacts, particularly peas in a paper sack, milk in an LDPE bags and pork in waxed
paper. These values complement the statements made in the previous Figures 2–5. The values of the
variables that are negatively correlated with the products were moved to the right half of the graph.
As can be seen from the bottom-right cluster, the two packaging materials (HDPE bag and refundable
glass bottle), seem to be optimal for bottled water. For other EoL scenarios, the PCA plots show very
similar results differing only in minor particular parts. These graphs (Figures S1-S3) can be found in
the Supplementary Materials.
Figure 5.
Results of PtP ratio for peas and its individual packaging systems considering primary,
secondary and tertiary packaging. The results also represent the PtP values for various scenarios for
the handling of packaging material at the end-of-its-life cycle, namely the expected EoL mix in the
Czech Republic, material recovery, energy recovery and landfilling. The results are presented as a
percentage of PtP.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 11 of 17
From the results presented, it is clear that with the exception of bottled water, the products
themselves have significantly higher environmental impacts than their packaging, since the
environmental impacts associated with the production of 1000 kg of the corresponding product
were: 1520 kg of CO
2
eq. for milk, 853 kg CO
2
eq. for peas, 8980 kg CO
2
eq. for pork and 0.2 kg CO
2
eq. for drinking water. Based on the results shown in Tables 58, it is clear that the primary packaging
has the second-highest impact in the entire Package-to-Product system in terms of LCA. Secondary
and tertiary packaging then shows lower environmental impacts.
3.1. Cow’s Milk
In the case of cow’s milk in the CZ EoL mix scenario, the LDPE bags packaging system has the
lowest environmental impact, namely 22.9 kg CO
2
eq., while the highest environmental impact is
shown by packing milk in non-refundable glass, 355.0 kg CO
2
eq. In the case of secondary and tertiary
packaging, the highest environmental impacts are associated with glass packaging. The eects of the
secondary packaging of non-refundable bottles show the impact of 47.4 kg CO
2
eq. and the tertiary
packaging impact was found to be 8.54 kg CO2eq.
The following figure shows the results of the PtP parameter, which is the ratio of the environmental
impact of the sum of primary, secondary and tertiary packaging compared to the product. The results
also represent dierent EoL scenarios. The purpose of this comparison is to identify the optimal
packaging management system with respect to the possible reduction of environmental impacts. As
shown in Figure 2, the cow’s milk trends in the CZ EoL mix also follow most of the other EoL methods,
where the lowest PtP ratio is displayed by the LDPE packaging system, while the highest ratios are
shown by the packaging system using non-refundable glass in the three scenarios under review (CZ
EoL mix, energy recovery and landfilling). The scenario representing the glass milk packaging system
and its subsequent 100% material recovery shows the PtP ratio of 5%. On the basis of the results, it
can be concluded that the most appropriate EoL of the packaging materials would be their material
utilisation in all systems considered. In this scenario, the lowest PtP ratio ever reached is 1% for the
LDPE bag packaging system. On the other hand, the system of milk packaging in non-refundable
glass bottles presents the highest PtP value of 31%, where the packaging is used for energy recovery or
landfill at the end of its life cycle.
3.2. Water
Compared with all the other products, water is an exception because the product itself has a
very low environmental impact of 0.234 kg CO
2
eq. Again, similar to other evaluated products,
primary packaging still shows the highest impact of all the packaging systems monitored. The lowest
environmental impact of 25.1 kg CO
2
eq. in the CZ EoL mix scenario is displayed by the system
of packing drinking water in an HDPE bag, while the highest impact of 509.2 kg CO
2
eq. is shown
by water packaged in non-refundable glass. In the case of secondary and tertiary packaging, the
highest environmental impacts are again associated with glass packaging. For non-refundable glass,
the secondary packaging shows the impact of 47.3 kg CO
2
eq. and the tertiary packaging just 2.9 kg
CO2eq., as it can be seen in Table 6.
As can be seen in Figure 3, the PtP values are reported in thousands to hundreds of thousands
per cent due to a lower order of magnitude of the environmental impacts associated with drinking
water production. Similar to milk, the CZ EoL mix trends are copied in other EoL methods. The lowest
ratio of PtP is manifested by the system of packing water into an HDPE bag, in case of its material
recovery, it was 8009%. The highest PtP ratio is represented by the system of packaging water into
non-refundable glass in case of its energy utilisation, which was 299380%. Based on the results, the
most suitable EoL for a glass bottle would be its material recovery where the PtP values do not exceed
45021%.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 12 of 17
3.3. Pork
Pork has the environmental impact of 8980 kg CO
2
eq., the highest of all the products under review.
When comparing individual packaging methods presented in Table 7, the lowest environmental impact
in the CZ EOL mix scenario is displayed by waxed paper, 5.6 kg CO
2
eq. On the other hand, the system
of packaging meat in aluminium packaging shows the highest impact, namely 123.3 kg CO
2
eq. In
cases of secondary and tertiary packaging, the environmental impacts are the same for all packaging
systems, specifically 1.1 kg CO2eq. and 2.2 kg CO2eq.
Given the very high environmental impact values of the product compared to all packaging
materials, PtP for pork is the lowest, namely up to 2.2%. The lowest PtP in total was demonstrated by
0.03% of wax paper recycling. The highest PtP was then shown by the aluminium packaging reaching
2.2%. Based on the results in Figure 4, it can be concluded that material recycling of all selected types
of packaging has the lowest potential environmental impact.
3.4. Peas
Production of peas has a relatively low environmental impact of 853 kg CO
2
eq. Based on the
results of the comparison of the packaging systems selected as presented in Table 8, it can be concluded
that the lowest environmental impacts of pea packaging in the CZ EoL mix scenario are associated
with the paper bag packaging system, namely 18.6 kg CO
2
eq. The highest impact is shown when
packing peas in a cotton bag, namely 843.6 kg CO
2
eq., which is almost equal to the environmental
impact of the product itself. The PP bag packaging system has a relatively low impact of 60.6 kg CO
2
eq. In the case of secondary and tertiary packaging, the highest environmental impacts are associated
with corrugated cardboard box packaging. In this case, the secondary packaging shows 40.8 kg CO
2
eq. and tertiary packaging 8.4 kg CO2eq.
The PtPs for each pea packaging system are presented in Figure 5. According to the results, the
system of wrapping peas in a cotton bag appears to be the least environmentally friendly option in all
of the EoL scenarios. On the other hand, the lowest PtP ratio in all of the EoL scenarios was shown by
the paper sack packaging system. Based on the results, it can be stated that from the point of view of
the environmental impacts, the most suitable EoL method is the material recovery of the packaging
while the least environmentally friendly option is landfilling, here showing the PtP values of 106.7%.
To test the dependence of the climate change (CC) indicator values on the parameters of individual
packaging and the products and for further verification of the PtP indicator, we used the PCA method,
as can be seen in Figure 6. In this figure, individual products packed in dierent packaging materials
were broken down into clusters that determine their mutual similarity, also considering the dependence
on the impacts of the packaging materials and the products. The X-axis in the graph expressing PC1
explains 75.4% variability, while the Y-axis expressing PC2 explains 19.2% of the variability. Distances
between dierent products in dierent packages are thus represented by more significant attributes
in the horizontal direction than in the vertical direction. The values on the left in the upper half of
the graph indicate that the predominant eects of the environmental impacts stem from the products
alone. The marked cluster then shows which packaging materials in the CZ EoL scenario are the most
appropriate with regard to the overall environmental impacts, particularly peas in a paper sack, milk
in an LDPE bags and pork in waxed paper. These values complement the statements made in the
previous Figures 25. The values of the variables that are negatively correlated with the products were
moved to the right half of the graph. As can be seen from the bottom-right cluster, the two packaging
materials (HDPE bag and refundable glass bottle), seem to be optimal for bottled water. For other
EoL scenarios, the PCA plots show very similar results diering only in minor particular parts. These
graphs (Figures S1–S3) can be found in the Supplementary Materials.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 13 of 17
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 14 of 18
Figure 6. Principal component analysis of variations of climate change impact for different types of
packaging and products for the CZ EoL scenario.
4. Discussion
Many LCA studies have already dealt with the comparison of different packaging alternatives,
but often with varying functional units and differing scopes of the studies, as well as the boundaries
of the systems assessed and the selected evaluation methodology [9,33–35]. For this reason, it is very
difficult to compare the results of individual studies. Regarding the system under consideration,
studies frequently only deal with the primary type of packaging but less often with the secondary or
even tertiary packaging. The complex evaluation of all three packaging types is usually monitored in
a minor way. For the reasons mentioned above, the aim of our study was to create an indicator and
test its validity on several products in order to comprehensively assess the environmental impacts of
primary, secondary and tertiary packaging in relation to the products selected. The carbon footprint
was chosen as the impact category used to determine the indicator because the carbon footprint is an
impact category that is often monitored in many studies [9,33,36–39].
The topicality of the theme and the growing interest not only in the academic sphere but also
among the wider public, is supported by the fact that a similar indicator assessing the environmental
impacts of packaging has already been introduced by the American retail chain Wall-Mart. Scorecards
or environmental packaging score can be defined by several indicators, such as the production of
Figure 6.
Principal component analysis of variations of climate change impact for dierent types of
packaging and products for the CZ EoL scenario.
4. Discussion
Many LCA studies have already dealt with the comparison of dierent packaging alternatives,
but often with varying functional units and diering scopes of the studies, as well as the boundaries of
the systems assessed and the selected evaluation methodology [
9
,
33
35
]. For this reason, it is very
dicult to compare the results of individual studies. Regarding the system under consideration,
studies frequently only deal with the primary type of packaging but less often with the secondary or
even tertiary packaging. The complex evaluation of all three packaging types is usually monitored in a
minor way. For the reasons mentioned above, the aim of our study was to create an indicator and
test its validity on several products in order to comprehensively assess the environmental impacts of
primary, secondary and tertiary packaging in relation to the products selected. The carbon footprint
was chosen as the impact category used to determine the indicator because the carbon footprint is an
impact category that is often monitored in many studies [9,33,3639].
The topicality of the theme and the growing interest not only in the academic sphere but also
among the wider public, is supported by the fact that a similar indicator assessing the environmental
impacts of packaging has already been introduced by the American retail chain Wall-Mart. Scorecards
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 14 of 17
or environmental packaging score can be defined by several indicators, such as the production of
greenhouse gas emissions in packaging production, packaging weight to product ratio, transport
eciency and packaging recyclability [
40
,
41
]. Concerning this tool, Olsmats and Dominic [
40
] state that
the inaccuracy of the input data may be a drawback as the data is based on the subjective evaluation of
respondents. In fact, the inaccuracy of the input data may also be a limiting factor of our study as
the data combine multiple sourcesi.e., literature, information from packaging material manufacturers,
own measurements and assumptions.
Another objective of the study was to assess packaging management from a life-cycle perspective
and to assess what environmental impacts they might bring about under dierent EoL scenarios. Based
on the evaluation of the EoL scenario results for the monitored products and packaging using the
PCA method, the data was divided into individual clusters, as can be seen in Figure 6. These clusters
defined which product and packaging groups have their environmental impacts primarily determined
by the product and which by the packaging. The results also presented a group that included products
with the most appropriate packaging in terms of the overall environmental impacts. Specifically, these
involved paper-wrapped peas, cow’s milk in LDPE bags, pork in waxed paper, and water in HDPE
bags or refundable glass bottles. The results are consistent with the PtP indicator.
As for testing of the indicator itself on four dierent examples of packaged products, the results
are consistent with other studies in many ways. For instance, Fantin et al. [
42
] reviewed the results of
LCA studies on the global warming potential (GWP) category for bottled and tap water, harmonizing
and comparing the results of each study. From the results of the harmonized scenario of their research,
it can be concluded that an average value for a 1000 litre package packed in a PET bottle, including the
EoL impacts of the bottle, is 162 kg CO
2
eq. The results of our study indicate similar results for the
PET drinking water packaging system in the EoL mix scenario - 106 kg CO
2
eq, landfilling - 112 kg
CO
2
eq, energy recovery - 160 kg CO
2
eq and recycling - 62 kg CO
2
eq. If we use the values from the
above-mentioned study to calculate the PtP for water in the PET bottle [
42
], the PtP value for bottled
water would be 69 302%. The PtP calculated on the basis of the data in our study is lower, namely,
in the EoL mix it is 54 205%, landfilling - 57 876%, energy recovery - 79 654% and in the scenario
assuming recycling - 31 869%. When assessing the packaging of water in glass containers, refundable
glass bottles show a lower environmental impact compared to non-refundable glass bottles, as already
found in a study by Tichá[21], for example.
Another study of Meneses et al. [
9
] assessed the carbon footprint for dierent types of milk
packaging, namely composite packaging, HDPE and PET packaging of dierent sizes. According to
their study [
10
], the use of composite packaging displays lower environmental impacts than those of
HDPE or PET packaging in EoL landfilling and energy recovery scenarios. Only when HDPE or PET is
recycled, HDPE and PET packaging is a more environmentally friendly option compared to composite
packaging. Our results are consistent with the cited study, where the aseptic packaging milk system
generally shows a lesser impact on the GWP impact category compared to the PET bottle primary
packaging system, the recycling scenario making an exception here. A non-refundable glass bottle is
the least suitable option from the GWP point of view, similar to the study on the packaging of milk and
dairy products [23].
The environmental impacts of dierent meat packaging methods were also addressed by
Maga et al. [
43
]. Their study compared the impacts of plastic trays used for packing meat. The
plastic trays compared were made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), PP, PET, and polylactic acid (PLA).
According to this study, the extruded polystyrene coating shows the lowest environmental impact.
A dierent study [
44
] dealing with the environmental impacts of disposable containers (containers)
for take-away food presents comparisons of containers made of aluminium foil, PS and EPS. The
results of the study [
44
] show an EPS container as being the most environmentally friendly option,
7–28 times less environmentally damaging than aluminium containers. The study evaluated the meat
packaging in aluminium foil, EPS tray, waxed paper and HDPE with paper. According to the study
results, wrapping meat into EPS is a more environmentally friendly option compared to the aluminium
Sustainability 2020,12, 3034 15 of 17
foil. This is true for all scenarios except for the energy recovery scenario, where the aluminium foil
packaging system actually displays a lower impact. However, according to the PtP ratio, packing meat
in waxed paper still appears to be the most suitable system.
In the case of packaged peas, the system of wrapping peas in a cotton bag showed the highest
PtP values, as the production of cotton fibres causes a significant environmental burden. A study by
Hedayati et al. [
45
] states that the production of 1 tonne of cotton fibres produces 1601 kg CO
2
eq. The
use of a cotton bag could be an environmentally friendly option if the bag was reused, as shown by the
study [
46
] dealing with shopping bags. The smallest PtP ratio is presented by packing peas in a paper
bag. The weight of paper used when packing peas in the paper bag is approximately six times lower
than the weight of the paper box. This means that the reduction of the quantity (dematerialization) of
the material used can significantly reduce the potential environmental impacts [43].
Study Limitations
The results of the study may be limited by the input data used as it comes from dierent sources.
In the case of missing input data, the pieces of data necessary were obtained from actual measurements
or they were estimated. The results of this study should be interpreted in this context. Using more
accurate input data or adding missing information would lead to more accurate study results.
To evaluate the PtP indicator, the EF 3.0 methodology and the climate change impact category
were selected. However, the environmental impacts of products and packaging vary across dierent
impact categories or evaluation methodologies. For the further development of the indicator, it will be
appropriate to focus on other impact categories too.
5. Conclusions
The results of this study show that in order to develop a uniform PtP methodology, it is necessary
to create dierent categories of foods for which the PtP would be more specifically limited. This is due
to the fact that dierent types of food display dierent environmental impacts. For instance, one tonne
of pork has an impact of 8980 kg CO2 eq., while 1 tonne of peas only 853 kg CO2 eq. Since the impacts
of packaging materials are of the same order of magnitude, the PtP ratio can vary by tens to hundreds
of percent. A way to harmonize these derogations is to create a coecient for individual categories
that will relativize its environmental impacts. Another option is to test the PtP using other impact
categories than just the category of climate change. These adjustments and further development of the
PtP indicator will be examined within the scope of future research.
Supplementary Materials:
The following are available online at http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/7/3034/s1,
Figure S1: Principal component analysis of variations of climate change impact for dierent types of packaging
and products for Energy Recovery Scenario, Figure S2: Principal component analysis of variations of climate
change impact for dierent types of packaging and products for Material Recovery Scenario, Figure S3: Principal
component analysis of variations of climate change impact for dierent types of packaging and products for
Landfilling Scenario.
Author Contributions:
Investigation and literature research, M.Š.; methodology, V.K.; resources, M.Š. and V.K.;
supervision, V.K.; application of LCA model in software, M.Š.; writing—original draft, M.Š.; reviewing and editing,
M.Š. and V.K. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding:
Financial support from specific university research (MSMT No 21-SVV/2019), from the grant of Specific
university research – grant No A1_FTOP_2020_004 and from institutional support of UCT Prague.
Conflicts of Interest:
The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the
study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to
publish the results.
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... Due to busy and more complex lifestyle, an on-the-go eating and drinking trend is visible even on the dairy market. Nowadays dairy packaging is very important as it is a vehicle for product differentiation, enables communication of the content, and is a powerful branding tool (Mania et al. 2018a;Velasco and Spence 2018;Šerešová and Kočí 2020). ...
... This leads to increase of snack-sized, resealable, portion-controlled packaging. However, singleuse packaging contributes to the increase in the amount of packaging waste (Šerešová and Kočí 2020). On the other hand, as dairy products are highly perishable, food waste and food loss in the food chain are also a problem. ...
Chapter
Packaging creates the first impression from consumers when selecting commercial food or beverages. Different packaging components are important as they contain all areas of interest related to branding, shape, design, and nutritional information, which could determine willingness to purchase and success of products in the market. However, traditional packaging acceptability assessments based on focus groups, acceptance and preference tests may be biased and subjective. Therefore, novel assessment methods have been developed based on more objective parameters, including non-invasive biometrics such as eye-tracking, emotional responses from consumers and changes in physiological parameters, such as heart rate and body temperature. Emerging technologies have also been studied for packaging assessment, such as virtual/augmented reality and artificial intelligence tools, including computer vision and machine learning modelling. Furthermore, counterfeiting has been a major issue among commercial products, with food and beverages accounting for 10% counterfeited, including packaging and branding. This chapter focuses on the latest research on intelligent and digital technologies for packaging development, assessing consumer acceptability towards packaging and authentication using new and emerging digital technologies.
... The obtained product goes through secondary and tertiary packaging procedures in order to be distributed to retailers. The data regarding secondary and tertiary packaging were taken from the article "Proposal of Package-to-Product Indicator for Carbon Footprint Assessment with Focus on the Czech Republic" [77]. Data from transportation were also retrieved from the article "energy balance for locally grown versus imported apple fruit" [78]. ...
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... Nearly 40% of global plastics was used for packaging (Groh et al., 2019) and the recycling rate was just 9% (Jambeck et al., 2015). As an integral part of most products in daily life, packaging should be a matter of concern because it brings indisputable environmental impacts (Cazon et al., 2017;Seresova and Kaci, 2020). Plastic packaging products can eventually enter environment in the form of micro-and nano-plastics (Kumar et al., 2021;Wang et al., 2021), and have the potential to pollute agricultural soils (Kumar et al., 2020) and damage ecosystem (Zhou et al., 2022). ...
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... The PtP indicator was used for analysing the relation between the environmental impact caused by the product and its package. The PtP indicator was designed as the ratio of the result of the climate change indicator for the package (CC Pa ) and the result of the climate change indicator for the product (CC Pr ) [33]. Regarding the results of the climate change indicator, the PtP cc as indicator for the evaluation of the results of the climate change indicator is calculated according to Equation (1). ...
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Circular economy has gained momentum since the 1970s as a regenerative alternative to the traditional linear economy. However, as the circular economy has gone mainstream, circularity claims have become fragmented and remote, consisting of indirect contributions, such as the life extension of other products and the use of waste as feedstock, without addressing the actual cause of waste. The present study aims to identify the strategic motivations of manufacturers participating in the circular economy and the corresponding relationship to ecological embeddedness. This paper explores the circular economy in manufacturing through existing products on the market and their relationship to eco-design by considering the product, packaging, and its production. Legitimacy is found to be a decisive factor in whether the type of circular economy strategy manufacturers adopt yields ecological benefits. The results from the case study of products clearly indicate the superiority of ecological embeddedness, as a form of circularity supporting strong sustainability. Finally, a novel template is proposed to support the implementation of ecological embeddedness in manufacturing.
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The agri-food sector is one of the key sectors where the action is needed to ensure the transition to a more sustainable development model in line with the principles of the circular economy (CE). The use of indicators to monitor progress and areas for action is a key element in the shift of companies, regions, and countries toward a circular model. This study aims to create a dashboard that can be used at various spatial levels to guide the agri-food sector toward a CE and sustainable development. Starting with the relevant literature, we identified 102 indicators classified according to three areas of sustainability (environmental, economic and social) and spatial dimensions (macro‐meso-micro) within 8 scopes. The dashboard provides a toolbox for directing decision-making processes and strategies through the targeted use of indicators with respect to the context in which the CE is applied. In addition, the dashboard allows us to highlight missing aspects related to (1) new indicators not covered by the tool; (2) new scopes not yet explored in the literature; and (3) the need to adopt cross-sectional indicators. For this last aspect, the analysis revealed only 17 such indicators. A future step is to define the most suitable configurations among the indicators in which CE is generated, starting from the test of the indicators at the micro level to validate their applicability and consider the impacts they may have at the macro or meso levels.
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Today, a wide range of traditional materials are used for food packaging applications and new packaging materials are constantly being developed. Although food packaging materials exert positive effects on the environment by preventing spoilage and reducing food waste, after use, their disposal can remarkably affect the environment especially if the 3Rs approach is not followed. The aim of this Chapter is to give an insight on the environmental impacts of packaging materials intended for food use throughout their life cycle. The highest contributions to the packaging waste were supplied by paper/paperboard (50.8%) that also shows the highest recycling rate together with plastics (about 73%). The Regulatory Frameworks establish minimum recycling targets for various packaging materials. The packaging environmental impacts, evaluated through the application of quali-quantitative methods such as LCA, eco-design and carbon footprint, must be accompanied by the evaluation of the impacts of the food packaging system. Some new packaging solutions contribute to various impact categories more than the conventional ones but, being able to considerably prevent food losses, they minimize the environmental impact of the contained food.
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Societal change is needed to prevent and reduce the growth in the amount of solid waste entering the sea. Marine debris networks cover a broad range of activities in order to protect our oceans. By following a common vision and a collective systematic approach they are capable of creating synergies between all relevant stakeholders that result in reducing the flow of waste into our oceans. Thus, they are key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. During the 6th International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego in 2018, different marine debris networks from different parts of the world presented their activities, achievements and challenges. This led to network representatives agreeing to collaborate as members of an International Waste Platform. This platform aims to harmonize objectives, share knowledge, join forces and help new networks to emerge.
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The increase in international trade due to globalization is evident in southeast Spain, which has become the top exporter of fruit and vegetables. Countries within the European Union, such as Germany and France, emphasize the sustainability and environmental impacts of these products. Hence, a greater understanding of the environmental implications of transporting fruit and vegetables between their origin and their destination might improve the sustainability of this commercial activity. The concept of a carbon footprint is a recognized environmental indicator that can be used for life cycle analysis. Here, a rigorous carbon footprint assessment was developed to examine the impact of using cardboard box containers to store and transport 1,000 t of fruit and vegetable products by road from their origin in Almería, Spain, to a destination market. The assessment included the fabrication of the cardboard boxes, the service they provide while transporting the products to the distribution center of the destination, and the end-of-life of the boxes for the six main products grown in Almería. The results showed that storing and transporting 1,000 t of product by road emits between 58 t and 130 t of CO2e depending on the fruit or vegetable type and the destination market. The implications of the end-of-life scenarios with respect to the destination are also discussed. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis was conducted for the transport distance. Lastly, biogenic CO2 production was also assessed according to standard carbon footprint assessment method.
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As the supply chain has an important impact on product carbon footprint (PCF), it is a crucial issue to estimate PCF across sustainable supply chain (SSC). As the current researches always focus on the calculation approaches for carbon footprint at the design and manufacturing stages, they lack the prescriptiveness and carbon-specific accounting guidance needed to produce consistent PCF, and most of the existing PCF models fail in the SSC. The contribution of this paper is a systematic PCF model for all the activities across SSC. After the introduction of the supply chain operations reference (SCOR) model, SSC activities are discussed one by one in detail. As the decisions made during the SSC network have extensive impacts on PCF, it is important to estimate PCF with SSC stage. This paper also proposed the detail calculation model for each stage of SSC, including plan, source, make, deliver, return, and enable stage. PCF in SSC of a water and fertilizer irrigation machine is given as an example to demonstrate the proposed methodology.
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For many agricultural commodity sectors, efforts to meet international obligations regarding emissions reduction are increasing. The Australian cotton industry has already made advances in this regard and the high yields associated with Australian cotton production dramatically minimise greenhouse gas emissions intensity. However, certainty about the quantum of greenhouse gas emissions and the relative contribution of different components of the emissions profile is somewhat unclear; and opportunities for farm-level practice change have not been fully explored. The objectives of this paper were to build a robust greenhouse gas emissions profile for the product-chain of Australian cotton fibre (lint) grown in northwest New South Wales, using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), compare the relative contributions of the different industries involved in the product-chain of cotton fibre (e.g. fertiliser producers, cotton farmers, cotton ginning plants) and assess the effects of an array of on-farm mitigation options. Testing the various management options provides information for growers and policy-makers about the relative emissions reduction benefits possible. Additionally, we compared results of previous Australian cotton production studies using similar assumptions and extrapolated the emissions profile to a national scale, with the intention of informing commodity and carbon markets. The foreground data for the study were for the three production seasons from 2011-2012 to 2013-2014 in northwest New South Wales , with a functional unit of one tonne of cotton lint at port. We also drew upon published data, survey data, scientific literature and Australian and international databases. To ensure consistency between our approach and that applied to meet international emissions reporting obligations, we applied emissions formulae and factors from the Australian National Inventory Report, except where more specific published data were available. We assumed that 96% of production was from irrigated systems, with 85% of irrigation water pumped by diesel-powered irrigation pumps and a median irrigated yield of 10.3 bales per ha. We tested the sensitivity of the resulting emissions profile to a wide array of enterprise assumptions and calculation variables. The climate change impact of cotton lint on a cradle-to-port basis was 1601 kg CO2e per tonne of cotton lint. The ‘hot-spots’ within the emissions profile included the production and use of synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilisers (46% of emissions), the production and use of electricity and diesel used for irrigation (10%) and the production and use of diesel for farm machinery (9%). Farm level management options with potential to minimise life cycle GHG emissions were: reducing N fertiliser rate from a commercial rate of 255 kg N/ha to 240 kg N/ha or 180 kg N/ha (2.6% and 13.2% emissions reduction); use of controlled-release and stabilised N fertilisers (5.9% reduction), changing from diesel to solar-powered irrigation pumps (8.1% reduction), changing from diesel to biofuel-powered farm machinery (3.4% reduction), changing from continuous cotton to a cotton-legume crop rotation (3.9% reduction) and use of N fertigation (2.1% reduction). Whilst we focused on farm-level mitigation strategies, these changes were placed in the context of the cradle-to-gate system, to account for associated changes in pre-farm and post-farm emissions
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Scrutiny of food packaging environmental impacts has led to a variety of sustainability directives, but has largely focused on the direct impacts of materials. A growing awareness of the impacts of food waste warrants a recalibration of packaging environmental assessment to include the indirect effects due to influences on food waste. In this study, we model 13 food products and their typical packaging formats through a consistent life cycle assessment framework in order to demonstrate the effect of food waste on overall system greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cumulative energy demand (CED). Starting with food waste rate estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we calculate the effect on GHG emissions and CED of a hypothetical 10% decrease in food waste rate. This defines a limit for increases in packaging impacts from innovative packaging solutions that will still lead to net system environmental benefits. The ratio of food production to packaging production environmental impact provides a guide to predicting food waste effects on system performance. Based on a survey of the food LCA literature, this ratio for GHG emissions ranges from 0.06 (wine example) to 780 (beef example). High ratios with foods such as cereals, dairy, seafood, and meats suggest greater opportunity for net impact reductions through packaging‐based food waste reduction innovations. While this study is not intended to provide definitive LCAs for the product/package systems modeled, it does illustrate both the importance of considering food waste when comparing packaging alternatives, and the potential for using packaging to reduce overall system impacts by reducing food waste.