Our analysis is based on the cradle-to-grave principle. The term "cradle-to-grave" refers to the entire lifecycle of a product or process, starting from its creation or inception (the "cradle") to its disposal or end-of-life (the "grave"). Considering the full impact of a product or process throughout its entire lifecycle, including the resources used in its creation, its use and maintenance, and its ultimate disposal is important to understand what stage in the cycle contributes mostly to the environmental impact.
The life cycle that is taken into account by Pickler is defined by the stages described in this article and illustrated in the flow diagram below.
The system applies the so called “cut-off” at the waste stockpile. This means that there is no carry-over of eco-burden from the old product to the new, recycled, product (according to EN 15804).
The three types of scopes of data, scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 are explained in this article.
Raw material supply
The first life cycle stage in an LCA is the raw material supply. A quantified list of ingredients (raw materials) of the product (the bill of material (BOM) of Scope 3). The impact of the materials that were required to make the packaging is considered and expressed in eco-costs. The eco-costs include the following environmental indicators: Resource depletion, eco-toxicity, human health and carbon footprint. In this article, it is described in further detail which sub-indicators fall under these environmental indicators.
Notes for specific material categories:
For fossil based plastic pellets the score includes: production oil & gas, refining and processing to plastic pellets.
For mechanical recycled plastics pellets the score including: shredding, washing, drying, remelting.
For chemical recycling the score includes: pyrolysis, refining pyrolysis oil, processing to plastic pellets and for PET via glycolysis.
For virgin metals the score includes: mining and refining.
For upcycled metals the score includes: remelting + refining and for recycled steel via electric furnaces.
For biobased polymers (starch-based, cellulose based, maize based, PLA, PHA) the score included the production process and processing into pallets.
For biobased polymers from agricultural waste the score includes the production process and processing into pallets.
For virgin paper and board (kraft liner) the score includes the production process.
For recycled paper and board the score includes the transportation and recycling process.
Raw material waste
To take into account the mass of waste material during refining, 10% of the eco-costs of the raw material supply is added to the total eco-costs.
The benefit of recycling is accounted for in the material supply stage. For example, when a product consists of 50% recycled material, the eco-costs of the raw material stage are 0.5 times the eco-costs of the virgin material plus 0.5 times the eco-costs of the recycled material. The eco-costs of the recycled material depend of the type of materials.
In the manufacturing stage, the production of the packaging is taken into account by considering the following quantifies for the specific production process:
1. The quantity of heat (source specified)
2. The electricity (country average, or sustainable source specified) at the manufacturing site of the product (Scope 2)
3. If applicable, the quantity of toxic emissions at the manufacturing site, when the eco-costs of the emissions are more than 2% (Scope 1)
The "use" phase cannot be included at this stage, since most packaging can be used for multiple products. Therefore, we always recommend making sure the packaging has a positive effect on the product or its shelf life. Clients that use a product more than once, can make a self-declared functional unit in terms of the number of uses, which is provided in the tool in the comparisons function.
The only transport stage that can be specified is the transport from the production location to the warehouse of the product supplier in Europe. The eco-costs of the transport are calculated by a transport factor for the type of transport, load factor and the distance in km.
The end-of-life stage considers the environmental footprint that comes with the waste processing of the packaging product after use.
The eco-costs end-of-life scenarios are given in environmental databases per material. The three prior end-of-life scenarios are
2. Waste treatment & open loop recycling (can include system expansion for combustible products by ISO14044 section 126.96.36.199)
3. Closed-loop recycling
Unfortunately, it is impossible for the distributors to ensure what the consumer will do with the packaging after use. Therefore, Pickler uses 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 the market growth for materials.
This article describes the end-of-life scenarios that Pickler currently uses.
Read here also what is outside the scope