Life Cycle Analysis shows raw material has most impact on carbon footprint

An efficient way to reduce the carbon footprint for a plastic film is to increase the amount of recycled raw material used in its manufacture. This is a key finding from a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) recently conducted by Rani Plast.

In response to customers’ requests to assess Rani Plast films, the company conducted an LCA analysis using ISO 14040:2006 certification criteria.  The analysis measured the global warming potential (GWP) of the films.

“The analysis shows the carbon footprint of the film from production of the raw material to the point the film leaves our factory,” said Product Development Director Mats Albäck. “We can also show the carbon footprint of the transport used to reach our customers plus transport to the end user, although this will result in different values for each customer.”

Key results indicate that raw material used in film production has the largest impact on climate, up to ten times greater than the effects of transportation and production put together.

“It follows that the most efficient way to reduce the impact on climate is to concentrate on the raw material alternative for the product.” said Albäck.

Promoting a circular economy

One way to reduce the carbon footprint of the raw material is to use re-cycled polyethylene. Rani Plast supports the circular economy and can today offer most of it films with varying degrees of recycled raw material. The amount of polyethene that is recyclable depends on the end use of the film. Re-cycled plastic remains a qualitatively less even raw material than virgin-based options and is therefore not often suitable as the only raw material. Recycled raw material derived from the plastic industry’s production waste also has a bearing on quality because it is cleaner than plastics recovered from end users in wider society.

Is recycled better than biobased?

Rani Plast prefers recycled plastic over biobased raw material, partly because of the high price of bioplastics, but also because the environmental impact of biobased plastic is still somewhat unclear.

“With reference to the LCA analysis we realised that the information supplied by our raw material supplier was not sufficiently transparent to produce a reliable result,” said Albäck.

The LCA was mainly carried out on RaniInsulation and RaniInsulation EcoL, but the result can be applied to most of Rani Plast’s films.

“In the end, the difference between various products’ climate impact is small, as the raw material mix used is often the same,” added Albäck.

Interested to learn more about the LCA-analysis? Please contact your personal sales contact at Rani Plast.

Raw material impact on carbon footprint