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Investigating the Life Cycle Environmental Profile of Liquid Food Packaging Systems

The presented results of the potential environmental impacts for the TBA/juice and TB/milk liquid food packaging systems show that:

  • The potential environmental impact of different food products varies, but dominates the environmental profile in the TB/milk system and contributes significantly in the TBA/juice system.
  • Inclusion or exclusion of the food product in LCA studies of liquid food packaging systems is an important consideration as it may change the relative environmental importance of the process steps.
  • The production of the raw materials, i.e. board, polyethylene and aluminium, is an important contributor to the potential environmental impact for the investigated systems.
  • The waste of raw and packaging materials is the most important contributor to the potential environmental impacts from the converting process.
  • The waste of both food product and packaging material in the filling step may, depending on waste rate and type of food product, dominate the environmental impacts associated with the filling process.
  • Distribution of filled packages is the most significant transport step in the life cycles of the studied systems.
  • The waste management processes are generally not the most significant contributors to the overall potential environmental impacts of the systems studied.
  • Both material recycling and energy recovery yield environmental credits for many impact categories, which are not achieved by the landfill option.
  • For the waste management scenarios studied neither the Recycling nor the Energy recovery options score better on all impact categories. Therefore, for these specific cases, neither option can be said to be categorically better than the other.
  • For a given environmental impact category, the ranking between Recycling and Energy recovery is to a large extent governed by the underlying assumptions and data bases with regard to the displaced material and energy.
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