Resource efficiency of consumables – Life cycle assessment of incontinence products
Journal article, 2019
Circular economy is presented as a sustainable alternative to the take-make-waste society. The discourse on circular economy emphasizes the role of durable products, while consumable products are less in focus, although resources efficiency is needed for all types of products. This paper aims to contribute knowledge on resource efficient measures that are possible to implement for consumables and to evaluate their resource efficiency potential by means of a case study on incontinence products using life cycle assessment. Four possible measures were identified that can be implemented at different stages of the value-chain, to increase their resource efficiency. The study was delimited to measures possible to implement using current technology. The measures were: recycling of waste generated in production, increasing the share of bio-based material in the product, shifting to a partly reusable product system and more effective use of products through customization to user's needs. Effective use of products through customization led to at least 20% decrease in environmental impact with no trade-offs between studied impact categories. However, when looking at global warming potential only, the partly reusable product system was found to decrease environmental impact with more than 50% compared to a corresponding disposable product. Moreover, many resource efficient measures were identified as being possible to implement for consumables, and in the case of incontinence products a combination of measures was possible.
Life cycle assessment