Environmental evaluation of Durapulp bio-composite using LCA - Comparison of two different applications
Journal article, 2016
Bio-composites are materials made up of a bio-fibre and a polymer, the latter being either bio-based or fossil-based, and are developed for various reasons, for example to decrease the use of non-renewable resources such as crude oil. DuraPulp, a bio-composite of wood pulp and poly-lactic acid (PLA) developed by Södra in Sweden is such a material. The goals of this study were to evaluate the main environmental impacts arising from the different life cycle phases of DuraPulp using life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare its impacts with those of several other composites and to evaluate two applications of the material from an environmental point of view. These two applications are a car door panel (a product with a long lifespan) and a packaging unit (a product with a short lifespan). The results show that bio-composites have a smaller environmental impact than composite materials made of 100% fossil-based plastics. The results also indicate that the packaging unit is the preferred application from an environmental point of view. Furthermore, the main contributors to the impact depend on the application. Lastly, the results indicate that replacing PLA with bio-polyethylene lowers the environmental impact of DuraPulp regardless of its application.
Life cycle assessment