The end-of-life stage considers the environmental footprint that comes with the waste processing of the packaging product after use. Unfortunately, it is impossible for the distributors to ensure what the consumer will do with the packaging after use. Therefore, the Pickler uses default end-of-life scenarios.
Definition of recycling in Pickler
Pickler uses the definition of recycled content rate for calculating the footprint. Also called EOL-RR. This creates often confusion since many governments are local authorities report on EOL-RIR and this number varies significant from the number on how much content actual gets recycled.
The end-of-life recycling input rate (EOL-RIR) reflects the total material input into the production system that comes from recycling of post-consumer scrap (input perspective). EOL-RIR is currently used in the EU Raw materials scoreboard and in the CE Monitoring Framework, as well as in the context of the list of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) for the EU. The end-of-life recycling rate (EOL-RR) is the share of a material in waste flows that is actually recycled (output perspective). Source
Default end-of-life scenarios
These default end-of-life scenarios are provided by Sustainability impact metrics and are based on European averages on waste recycling per material type combined with industry insights on market growth for materials.
There are four major end-of-life scenarios that Pickler currently uses.
If users have evidence that in their specific case the default value is not applicable, it is possible to change these percentages when evidence is provided to Pickler.
Incineration with energy recovery
Burning waste (also called incineration) is the most used scenario for most packaging materials. Since this process is often the most economic scenario and many packaging materials are contaminated or are created from multiple different materials.
Although landfill is taking place in Europe, it is something that needs to be avoided at all time. Plastic that ends up in the environment does not emit CO2 by it self, but is not a sustainable solution. Therefore we assume that products that end-up in landfill are incinerated first.
Since most European waste incinerator facilities use the heat of the burning process to power generators to create electricity. Generating this electricity reduces the amount of electricity coming from other sources like gas or coal. This prevention is called in LCA a 'credit' for heat recovery (according to ISO 14044 Section 220.127.116.11). This credit is based on the lower heating value multiplied by an incinerator efficiency of 55% (i.e. the efficiency of a modern municipal waste incinerator).
The footprint of waste treatment depends on the combustibility of the used material and comes from the Idemat database.
Read here why the credit can be also be a negative value.
If the material is not combustible the standard footprint for landfill is used. This is often the case for ceramic products.
According to Sustainability Impact Metrics some mono materials can be considered as highly recyclable by default. For example, glass and metals are assumed to be 100% recycled since they will never be burned to generate electricity. For cellulose-based materials, the default value is 66,7% recycling, based on known data from its regulated waste stream system.
For the recycled percentages of the materials that have established waste stream systems, the footprint score of the end-of-life scenario will be 0.
If other types of recycled material are used in the product, the 'credits' will be counted at the input in the raw material stage. This is because data on the recycling process of a specific product can be unreliable or difficult to verify. Therefore, considering recycling credits at the raw material stage is a more robust approach for accounting for the environmental impact of recycled materials in the life cycle assessment.
Because waste facilities in the EU are very limited suited for composting, we never use composting as a default scenario. This scenario can be changed in scenario products or when the supplier is able to provide evidence supporting this claim.
The default scenarios for material categories are summarized in the table below.
Products with deposit
Providing proof that your product has a deposit can significantly reduce its environmental impact in the end-of-life scenario. According to the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology, recycled materials are considered to belong to a new life cycle, and the use of recycled materials in the manufacturing of new products can significantly reduce the environmental impact associated with the extraction of raw materials and the disposal of waste. Therefore, if your product has a deposit, and the materials can be effectively recycled, the environmental impact associated with its disposal can be reduced to zero, resulting in a more sustainable product life cycle.
Default end-of-life scenarios per material category
In general the following end-of-life scenarios are used:
All cellulose-based materials (paper)
Metals and glass
All other materials
Default end-of-life scenarios per material specific
Details per material in the end-of-life stage are displayed when hovered over the "i" at the end-of-life stage. In general the footprint is related to amount of energy that a material provides when being incinerated.