Environmental evaluation of bio-composites using LCA - Comparison of two different applications
Conference contribution, 2013
Bio-composites have been developed in order to e.g. decrease the use of non-renewable resources, such as crude oil (used for plastics manufacturing). In order to investigate the environmental advantages and drawbacks of bio-composites, a LCA was carried out for Durapulp, developed by Södra, and several alternative composites. The goals of this study were to evaluate the environmental impacts during the bio-composite's lifespan, to compare effects arising from the choice of polymer used and to suggest methodological choices for comparing environmental impacts of applications with different lifespans. The short lifespan product is represented by a food-packaging unit and the long lifespan product by a car door panel.
The results show that bio-composites with a lower polymer fraction have a smaller environmental impact . They also show that the environmental impact of the packaging unit is reduced more when using the bio-composite instead of fossil-based plastic when compared to the case of the car door panel. Moreover, the results show that the different life cycle phases will have a different influence on the overall results for the two applications. This means that for the packaging unit the accuracy data about the manufacturing phase is more important, while detailed data for the use phase is of more importance for the car door panel. Finally, a discussion on the importance of choosing a proper dimension for the reference flow is included.