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Paper vs leaf: Carbon footprint of single-use plates made from renewable materials

Korbelyiova, Lucia and Malefors, Christopher and Lalander, Cecilia and Wikström, Fredrik and Eriksson, Mattias (2021). Paper vs leaf: Carbon footprint of single-use plates made from renewable materials. Sustainable Production and Consumption. 25 , 77-90
[Research article]

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Abstract

Plastic pollution of the natural environment world-wide is ubiquitous. More than 80% of marine litter is made of plastics, 70% of which originates from disposable items, so plastic disposables need to be replaced with disposables made from renewable materials. However, it is important to investigate the environmental impact of renewable alternatives through their life cycle, in order to support sustainable consumption and production. In this study, the carbon footprint of disposable plates made from two different renewable materials (paper, tree leaves) were analysed using life cycle assessment. The leaf plate was produced in India and the paper plate in Finland, but both were used and disposed of in Sweden. The results showed that the leaf plate had higher carbon footprint, due to long-distance transport and use of fossil fuel-based electricity for production. Scenario analysis indicated that the emissions associated with the leaf plate were lower when replacing air freight with sea transport and with economies of scale in expanded production. For the paper plate, the processing stage was shown to contribute most life cycle emissions. These could be lowered by applying a biodegradable coating. In comparison the leaf plate had the benefit of being biodegradable, but this benefit was not enough to compete with the paper plate which was consider the less environmentally damaging alternative. However, in order to increase sustainability in the food supply chain, it will not be enough to just improve the material use for single use plates, especially since the idea of single use materials could be seen as less sustainable, but improved materials have the potential to offset the anticipated growth of the food service sector where single use items are widely used. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Authors/Creators:Korbelyiova, Lucia and Malefors, Christopher and Lalander, Cecilia and Wikström, Fredrik and Eriksson, Mattias
Title:Paper vs leaf: Carbon footprint of single-use plates made from renewable materials
Series Name/Journal:Sustainable Production and Consumption
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:25
Page range:77-90
Number of Pages:14
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 105 Earth and Related Environmental Sciences > Environmental Sciences (social aspects to be 507)
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 2 Engineering and Technology > 207 Environmental Engineering > Environmental Management
Keywords:Sustainable Development, Life cycle assessment, Disposable plates
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-107147
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-107147
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1016/j.spc.2020.08.004
Web of Science (WoS)000608159500006
ID Code:26113
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Energy and Technology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:16 Nov 2021 05:25
Metadata Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 06:01

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