Carbon and energy footprints of high-value food trays and lidding films made of common bio-based and conventional packaging materials

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Abstract

The majority of packaging materials are manufactured from fossil-based polymers which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Substituting conventional fossil materials with bio-based alternatives may decrease the carbon and energy footprints, which would help contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and national energy and carbon strategies. This study conducted carbon footprint and energy analyses for common fossil-based and bio-based polymers in order to develop a baseline to which novel biopolymers can be compared. The primary focus of this research was to assess the carbon and energy impact of high-value food trays and lidding films used in meat, fish, and poultry packaging. The assessment showed a significant reduction (49%) in the carbon footprint of the bio-based compared to conventional packaging materials which signifies the positive environmental impacts of biopolymers. The findings highlighted the importance of carefully designing the entire life cycle of a product from raw materials to end of life, with recommendations made for sustainability criteria to be introduced for biobased feedstock and proper planning of waste and resource management strategies to ensure anticipated environmental benefits are realised.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100058
JournalCleaner Environmental Systems
Volume3
Early online date25 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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