Session 8

Advances and gaps in the research of environmental impacts of food packaging applications using LCA
Ankit Aggarwal1,2, Horst-Christian Langowski1,2
1TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan (WZW), Technical University of Munich, Freising – Germany; 2Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (Fraunhofer IVV), Freising, Germany

Developing food packaging applications based on materials from renewable resources, such as bio-plastics, is considered as potential solution to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging. While each specific industry applies the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method customized to its standard practices and requirements, a scientifically established LCA tailored approach to support packaging designers and engineers in developing environmental friendly food packaging applications from bio-plastics is still in nascent stage. The work presented here aims to discuss existing studies which have been used to quantify environmental impacts of food packaging with focus on LCA. Most of the studies focus on comparative evaluations of packaging materials on a mass basis, thereby neglecting the specific functions the materials usually fulfill to a different degree. Moreover, the selection of environmental indicators is often done in-consistently, for instance in using generally agreed indicators like green house gas emissions together with process related indicators such as compostability. In addition, often stages of the life cycle like disposal are focused instead of the total life cycle. The outcome of the analysis of the studies will present two main conclusions to develop a tailored approach for bio-plastics: a) A function-driven approach that normalizes the impacts with view on the packaging functions as required for specific product classes, b) A consistent list of indicators to be regarded in any study.