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Life cycle assessment of cellulose, ethanol, lignin and vanillin from Borregaard, Sarpsborg

Phase II

This study has been carried out using life cycle assessment (LCA[1]) methodology based on the ISO-standards 14044/48[2], for the products cellulose, ethanol (96 % and 99 %), lignin (liquid and powder) and vanillin from Borregaard’s factories in Sarpsborg/Norway. The functional unit has been 1 tonne for cellulose, lignin and vanillin and 1 m3 for ethanol. The study is a cradle-to-gate analysis, which means that the products are followed from extraction of raw materials to the gate at Borregaard and that the use and disposal phases are not considered. To make it easier to use this analysis for developing EPDs[3], the impact of 100 km transport of product to customer is also shown.


Which life cycle phase is most significant varies depending on what impact category is in focus. The eutrophication potential stands out because other internal processes than combustion (mainly emissions of COD) contributes with as much as 79 % - 88 % of the total burden. When it comes to ozone depletion potential, production and transport of energy carriers dominates, with 67 % - 78 % of the total burden. This is caused mainly by offshore activities (emissions of methane). For global warming potential, acidification potential, photochemical ozone creation potential and cumulative energy demand, the total burdens from production and transport of raw materials (energy carriers and timber/wood chips/chemicals) are of the same magnitude as the total burdens from the internal processes at Borregaard (combustion of oil and waste and other internal processes). 

In total, this means that energy (production and/or use) is important for most of the environmental impact categories regarding Borregaard’s products. Borregaard’s infrastructure (buildings, tanks, containers and foundation) and transport to customer is not significant (contribute 3 % or less) for six of the seven impact categories analysed.


Reducing the energy use at Borregaard will to a large extent affect all the impact categories in a positive way, with the eutrophication potential being the only exception as an impact category less closely correlated to energy use. Generation and use of energy are the sources for most of the burdens along the value chain of Borregaard’s products. A transition to more use of renewable energy (bio energy, energy from waste, electricity with guaranty of origin) will also reduce the global warming potential and the ozone depletion potential, but the results for the other impact categories are harder to estimate without performing an analysis on this scenario.  


Borregaard has also other emissions not mentioned here because they do not affect the selected impact categories. Copper, mercury and the grouping of arsenic/cadmium/copper/chromium is most important, and these have potential toxic effects.

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