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New LCA

Date: 18/11/2015
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NatureWorks and thinkstep adhere to ISO standards for revision of Ingeo eco profile.

In the first update of the Ingeo eco profile since 2010, NatureWorks partnered with thinkstep and followed ISO 14040 and 14044 standards to ensure accurate calculations. Subsequently, NatureWorks submitted a paper on the revised eco profile for peer review. The paper, “Life Cycle Inventory and Impact Assessment Data for 2014 Ingeo™ Polylactide Production,” was recently published in Industrial Biotechnology magazine.

“The peer reviewed paper provides a detailed description of the different steps in the Ingeo production chain and how the final data were calculated,” said Erwin T. H. Vink, Environmental Affairs Manager, NatureWorks. The article documents the energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) inputs and outputs of the Ingeo PLA production system, the revised eco‑profile, and the calculation and evaluation of a comprehensive set of environmental indicators. The paper also addresses other topics such as land use, land use change, and water use.

While the Ingeo manufacturing process remains the same since the last calculation of the profile, the life cycle assessment (LCA) software modeling tools have changed and now provide extensively broadened LCA databases and datasets. With this new data, a more up‑to‑date and accurate picture of GHG emissions, energy consumption, and other commonly used indicators in an LCA can be drawn.

NatureWorks based the update on thinkstep´s GaBi6.3 modeling software. thinkstep subsequently reviewed the methodology used and determined that the LCA process was scientifically and technically valid and consistent with ISO 14040 and 14044 standards for conducting LCAs.

Cradle‑to‑gate greenhouse gas emissions
The charts compare the GHG emissions (including biogenic carbon uptake in the case of Ingeo) for Ingeo manufacture with the emissions resulting from the manufacture of a number of different polymers produced in the USA and Europe using the latest available industry assessments for each as well as non‑renewable energy consumption for those polymers. The numbers represent the totals for the first part of the life cycle of the polymers, starting with fossil or renewable feedstock production up to and including the final polymerization step.

Primary energy of non‑renewable resources

To help brand owners and researchers directly use this life cycle assessment data, NatureWorks has developed and made available on their website an in‑depth analysis of environmental benefits calculation, which provides extensive background and links to additional sources of information.
NatureWorks has also developed an online calculator for comparing the net GHG emissions and the nonrenewable energy use of products made with different plastic types. The online calculator provides an intuitive interface from which manufacturers and brands can input product data details and receive instantaneous feedback on the environmental impact of the materials they are using (1)

 

 

 

 

(1) The tool provides a good qualitative insight into how two polymers compare. For a definite, quantitative comparison, the LCA tool should be applied to compare finished products made from those polymers.

Published by the bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/15] Vol. 10