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Environ Technol. 2019 Feb;40(5):584-593. doi: 10.1080/09593330.2017.1397771. Epub 2017 Nov 7.

LCA of an ice cream cup of polyethylene coated paper: how does the choice of the end-of-life affect the results?

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a Medac s.r.l. , Salerno , Italy.
b Department of Industrial Engineering , University of Salerno , Salerno , Italy.


This study presents an evaluation of the environmental performance of an ice cream cup made of polyethylene (PE)/paper laminate using a life cycle assessment approach 'from cradle to grave'. Two opposite alternative disposal scenarios, as well as their intermediate combinations, were considered: 100% incineration and 100% landfilling. The environmental impacts were calculated using the EPD 2013 evaluation method since the study was developed in an Environmental Product Declaration perspective as well as the method ReCiPe 2008 H at the endpoint level. PE/paper laminate production was the most impactful process since it provided the highest contribution to total impacts in four of six impact categories considered. Ice cream cup production was the second impactful process. The 100% incineration scenario provided negligible contribution to life cycle total impact for all impact categories; while considering the landfilling scenario, the percentage contributions to the total impact provided by the end-of-life phase increased considerably, until to be comparable to the contributions provided by the production processes of the PE/paper laminate and the ice cream cup. The obtained results highlighted that different disposal scenarios can affect significantly the conclusions of a study. At the endpoint level, incineration was more environmentally sound than landfilling for all the ReCiPe damage categories.


Food packaging; LCA; PE/paper laminate; incineration; landfilling

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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