Life Cycle Assessments Guide Sustainability
Life cycle assessments (LCAs) quantify environmental impact. For the food industry, packaging LCAs are commonly combined with food LCAs to provide a more complete picture of the impact that packaged food has on the environment. Packaging LCA determination methods differ and include forensic, comprehensive, and streamlined versions that can be combined with food LCAs and other data into system LCAs.
In the early 1970s, Harry Teasley at the Coca-Cola Company pioneered assessing various beverage containers to determine their impact on the environment. The assessments indicated that plastics and nonreturnable packaging had less impact on the environment than glass, steel, and aluminum packaging. Other pioneers, including Ian Boustead from the Open University in England, refined environmental assessments. Eventually, ISO standards were developed to enable more robust and commonly accepted assessment and to eliminate misuse and greenwashing. Now, LCAs demonstrate the comparative environmental impact of packaging alternatives.
Streamlined LCAs save time and money and lower the complexity of required data by isolating the more impactful factors and making assumptions. When the scope is consistent and known, streamlined LCAs can assess the environmental impact of specific materials whether they are bioderived or post-consumer recycled content, and assess disposal options.
To learn more about LCA types and determinations read the full report HERE