A Comparative Life Cycle Analysis of Liquid Paperboards and High-Density PE (HDPE) Containers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The majority (14.4 billion units) of plastic drinks containers distributed in the UK are produced from fossil-based materials, which impact on CO2 emissions significantly. One of the major fossil-based options for packaged bottles/containers is polyethylene (PE) and replacing it with more environmentally friendly alternatives may reduce the carbon footprint. A lack of standard methods and analysis in terms of the environmental impact of liquid paperboard has become more problematic since the European reference Life Cycle Database (ELCD) was discontinued in 2018. This current study examined the carbon footprint of liquid paperboard containers, which comprise a significant amount of bio-based materials, and compared the results to the most widely used fossil-based materials for non-carbonated drinks in the UK. The primary focus of this study was analysing the environmental impact of drinks containers for milk, which is purchased on a regular basis by most UK households. Compared to conventional polyethylene, the analysis found a substantial decrease (77%) in the carbon footprint by using liquid paperboard containers. The results of this study have provided a baseline assessment of the environmental impacts of alternatives to conventional plastic packaging for milk and other fresh liquid foods. The provided poster summarises the results of the carbon footprint analysis of high-density PE containers and non-aseptic liquid paperboard cartons when standard recycling is considered for the end-of-life. The study also demonstrates the influence of individual life cycle processes on the total carbon footprint where the production of raw materials accounted for a major contribution for the products.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2021
EventGlobal Research & Innovation in Plastics Sustainability - Online
Duration: 16 Mar 202118 Mar 2021


ConferenceGlobal Research & Innovation in Plastics Sustainability
Abbreviated titleGRIPS 2021
Internet address


  • lifecycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)


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