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Life cycle analysis of plastics for packaging: PVC and PET

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4 Author(s)

Industry and research institutions are increasingly interested in understanding the energy, greenhouse gas, and toxicity burdens associated with the various life cycle phases of products: production, transport, use, and disposal. Plastic packaging has attracted attention for having noteworthy environmental impacts. Indeed, the European ban on certain phthalates and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products that contain them has led the plastic packaging industry in the United States to consider potential substitutes, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and bio-derived plastic packaging such as polylactic acid (PLA) [1], [2]. Despite this movement, the life cycle environmental impacts of current PVC packaging production and disposal are not typically incorporated into material substitution decisions. This research has examined and compared the environmental life cycle impacts of PVC and PET. It has also considered the controversies surrounding accounting and mechanics in end of life (EoL) and the role of bio-polymers in this discussion. By providing a transparent life cycle impact story for these plastics, firms may make a more informed decision with regard to materials choice.

Published in:

Sustainable Systems and Technology (ISSST), 2010 IEEE International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

17-19 May 2010