Holistic Environmental Footprint

Holistic Environmental Footprint

Considering the front end and the back end of the production of packaging.

 

We often focus on waste management and disposal of single-use and disposable of packaging. We are not wrong in doing so as we do need to manage our waste and consider the type of product (sustainable or non sustainable) as well as the method of disposal.

But in this obsession with the disposal and waste management, that is the back end; we forget the equally important front end stage; that is the production of such packaging.  We forget how the manufacturing of the packaging can have more of an impact on the environment than even its disposal.

To fully understand the packaging’s environmental benefits and determine if it is eco-friendly, we need to consider its holistic environmental footprint.  It is definitely not enough to look at only the back end of the process but to consider and understand its complete lifecycle A product’s lifecycle includes all elements of production (the front end) and all elements of disposal (the back end) - including raw materials sourced, and manufactured into component parts, assembled, distributed, used, and sometimes re-used before finally being disposed of.  Every stage has an impact on the environment.

When we consider the environmental impact of the front end, some important things we need to look at are the:

  • source of materials used – renewable or non-renewable;
  • amount of Co2 used;
  • amount of energy used;
  • versatility of the materials for the back end.

 

Comparison between Element 100% biodegradable tableware made from Origo and some of our common packaging material. 

 

  1. Source of Materials
  • Plastic packaging - the most common of our packaging –plastic packaging are oil-based and made from fossil based non-renewable materials
  • Polystyrene packaging, commonly known as Styrofoam, is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer.
  • Bagasse products are made from residual sugar cane fibre (a waste product of sugar production).
  • Element products are made from a renewable sources of material - Origo (a starch based bio-plastic made of corn and yam), that will biodegrade in the right environment within 90 days.

Independent Accreditation of Biodegradability
Element  biodegradability meets industry certification including OK Biobased by Vincotte and ASTM D6400 and D6866. (In Europe the most important certification schemes for compliance to EN 13432 are the DIN-CERTCO (Germany), the Belgian OK-Compost label of VINÇOTTE and the Italian COMPOSTABILE – CIC schemes).

Note: Though Bagasse products are made from renewable sources of material and use less energy, Co2 and water than Polystyrene and even paper, they use more water in their production than Element products.

  1. Amount of Co2 used

Life Cycle Carbon equivalent emissions for materials, prior to forming into food ware products. Comparison between Origo and typical plastics used in food ware products.

MATERIAL PROCESS GWP (kgCO2/kg)

 

 

Relative Impact to Origo
Origo, granulate Flaked to pellets, prepared for moulding 0.95 0

 

 

LLDPE (Linear Low density polyethylene), granulate

 

 

Resin form, ready for extruding

 

 

1.82 1.9 x

 

 

HDPE (High density polyethylene), granulate Resin form, ready for extruding

 

 

1.92 2.0 x

 

 

Polypropylene, granulate Flaked to pellets, prepared for moulding 1.96 2.1 x

 

 

LDPE (Low density polyethylene), granulate Resin form, ready for extruding

 

 

2.07 2.2 x

 

 

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), granulate, bottle grade

 

 

Flaked to pellets, prepared for moulding

 

 

2.87 3.0 x

 

 

Polystyrene, granulate Flaked to pellets, prepared for moulding 3.45 3.6 x

Data from the Ecoinvent Centre which holds the world’s leading database with consistent and transparent, up-to-date Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data.

It can be seen that Origo has ONLY 28% the impact of polystyrene, 48% the impact of polypropylene, 33% the impact of PET, 45% the impact of LDPE, 49% of HDPE, 52% of LLDPE. This is in the production of granulate only. 

  1. Amount of Energy Used
  • Origo manufactured  in China and transport it to the UK, uses only 53% compared to polystyrene packaging
  • rPET (recycled polyester) – though considered a green option as energy required to make it is less than what is needed to make the virgin polyester – it still uses more energy than sustainable alternatives such as Origo as it need to be broken down before it is made into new plastic, which is then left in the landfill forever!
  • 1 kg of plastic uses 85.9 mega joules of energy when burnt.
    1 kg of Origo used 25.4 mega joules of energy when burnt.

 

  1. Versatility of the material

Element Tableware:

 

  • Origo - made from up to 70% of corn and yam starch and 30% - pp (polypropylene) pallets for water proofing and heat resistance qualities;
  • Element tableware can be disposed off as eco-friendly food waste. PP is assimilated with the corn and yam starch and will therefore fully biodegrade in the right environment within 120 days. When micro-organism ingests and digests the starch aspect of the product, the polypropylene (PP) content in origo that is assimilated with the corn is fully broken down into compost and produces a non-toxic humus waste that can be used as fertilizers;
  • Microwaveable and freezable, withstanding temperatures of -20°C to 120°C;
  • Reusable up to 3 times; Strong and durable;
  • Non-toxic; Acid and alkali resistant;
  • Oil and water proof;
  • Comes in twelve vibrant and fashionable colours offering a whole world of fashionable and practical options to choose from. With its range of twelve vibrant colours namely - forest green, midnight black, tangerine orange, glacier blue, ocean blue, rose red, violet, lavender, coral pink, pearl white, lime green and citron yellow to suit any occasion and purpose.
  • Competitively priced to normal plastics and cheaper than most biodegradable and compostable products.