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Environmental Assessment of Non-Refillable and Refillable PET Bottles used as Packaging for Beverages in Norway

English version

The project assesses the environmental aspects associated with the use of non-refillable-recyclable compared to the use of refillable PET bottles under the present conditions for refillable bottles: as regards sales volume, bottle size etc. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology based on the ISO standards 14040-43 is used for the analysis performed.

A reference group has been established for the project, consisting of stakeholders from the whole value chain of drinks, from bottle producers to recycling plants, and the independent Norwegian applied research institute STØ. The reference group has been active in data gathering and quality assurance of the data used.

Conclusions

  • When taking into account the assumptions and conditions the analyses are based on, in combination with general knowledge about the uncertainty levels in life-cycle assessments (about +/-30%), the two systems can be said to be approximately the same for both environmental and resource aspects.Sensitivity analyses show that the system with nonrefillable- recyclable bottles will have significantly (>30%) lowerenvironmental impacts than refillable bottles if:
    • non-refillable bottles were produced with at least 35% recycled material (greenhouse effect, acidification and energy consumption);
    • recycling occurs in Norway (greenhouse effect).
  • Sensitivity analyses show that the system with non-refillable-recyclable bottles will have significantly (>30%) higher environmental impacts than refillable bottles if:
    • non-refillable bottles were produced solely from virgin PET material (greenhouse effect, acidification and energy consumption);
    • blowing of non-refillable-recyclable bottles occurs at the bottle/preform producers (all categories);
    • the collection rate for non-refillable-recyclable bottles was lower than 80% (greenhouse effect, acidification and energy consumption).
  • Sensitivity analyses show that the following changes in assumptions do not lead to differences between the systems that are greater than the uncertainty level of 30%:
    • introduction of 2 litre bottles for 35% of the production volume in the system with nonrefillable- recyclable bottles;
    • changes in trip rate for the refillable bottles.

 

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