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06 | 2008

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LCA Natureflex Life

LCA Natureflex Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Profile Sand Martin Wood March Article contributed by Andy Sweetman, Global Marketing Manager, Sustainable Technologies, Innovia Films, Cumbria, UK The certififed compostable Gingerbread Folk pack uses NatureFlex from Innovia Films and carries the ’seedling‘ logo Background A carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted during the life cycle of a product or service. The carbon footprint of any product can accurately be determined by a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). However it must be remembered that a carbon footprint is only part of an LCA and other aspects are also generally considered. The areas of highest impact and associated CO 2 emissions will be identified during the LCA so that the production processes can be optimised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and any other negative impacts. Once it comes to the point that remaining CO 2 emissions cannot be eliminated by optimisation of energy efficiency, they can be compensated for by carbon offsetting. This involves investment in carbon reduction schemes such as reforestation, biofuels or energy efficient projects, which prevent an equivalent amount of GHG emissions elsewhere. Firstly let us look at what an LCA is NOT: • Just an energy balance • An effective tool for comparison between different products, with different properties • Simple • Capable of measuring product functionality • A long term truth An example of the problem when using an LCA is highlighted below: • Polymer A has a carbon footprint of 0.8kgCO 2 eq. Polymer B has a carbon footprint of 1.9kgCO 2 eq. Which is better? One would tend to say ‘Polymer A’ • When turned into a 25µm film: Polymer A has a moisture transmission rate of 150 g/m² / 24hr @ 38°C, density of 1.2 g/cm³ Polymer B has a moisture transmission rate of 7 g/m² / 24hr @ 38°C, density of 0.9 g/cm³ So which is better now? Polymer A would be ideal for wrapping fruit and vegetables, but if it wrapped a biscuit you would need 28 times more material to provide the same shelf life! In short it depends on the application the product is used for. So what is an LCA? • A fantastic tool to measure the environmental impacts of a given process 32 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/08] Vol. 3

LCA • A way to break a process down into ‘measurable’ units • A ‘truth’ for a given moment in time • A potential driver for future positive change Innovia Films’ LCA on NatureFlex – 2007 This was initially an eight month project conducted with an expert consultant. It has been so useful, that we have now brought the software and processes in-house. It was conducted from Cradle to Gate (i.e. the scope was from the tree to the pallet of slit film reels) and it focussed on six key environmental impact indicators at each stage. These were broken down into key raw material and key individual process steps to identify major impacts and prioritise work and investments wisely. They measure the past and present and examine the potential future. The six chosen indicators (in no particular order of preference) were: • Non-Renewable Energy Usage • Acidification (e.g. Acid Rain potential) • Eutrophication (e.g. Nitrification of waters and soils) • Human Toxicity Potential (Negative impact of a process on humans) • Global Warming Potential (Carbon balance) • Photochemical Ozone Creation (Summer smog) NB: Experts differ on how they rank the importance of different environmental indicators. Global Warming Potential (GWP): 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0,0 Pre 1985 1994 2006 2009 2012 Looking at the GWP indicator in detail, we can see that: • A significant reduction in GWP occurred when the CHP unit at Innovia Films manufacturing site was converted from coal to natural gas (1985). • Since 1994 raw material changes also contributed to the total of 58% reduction in GWP (1985-2006). • By 2009, full gas recovery will be implemented on all lines and a new more efficient production line will have replaced older equipment, creating further reductions. Key Improvement Summary Table: Reduction (2006 compared to pre-1985) (%) Non-Renewable Energy Usage 30 Acidification 78 Eutrophication 61 Human Toxicity Potential 73 Global Warming Potential 58 Photochemical Ozone Creation 26 Future Plans & CarbonZero Status: These include ‘tackling carbon from both ends’ – via reduction at source and offset of emissions. Innovia Films has achieved CarbonZero status on its full range of NatureFlex coated biodegradable and compostable packaging films through the implementation of carbonreduction schemes. NatureFlex is one of the few packaging materials that has been tested to and complies with the specification required for soil, home composting and waste water applications at ambient temperatures, as well as for industrial composting. Reducing a company’s carbon-footprint should principally be achieved through improvements in energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption, enhanced process technology and waste reduction. We have already made significant cuts in this way and are committed to continuing this in the future. Any manufacturing process will inevitably have an environmental impact and our involvement in these initiatives allows us to offset the overall effect of NatureFlex production and reassure our customers it is actually CarbonZero at the point of despatch from Innovia’s premises. Working with a leading carbon services company, co2balance, who provide carbon reduction schemes, Innovia Films decided to plant 3,000 trees at Sand Martin Wood, Faugh, Cumbria, UK. The planting of this new forest with a mix of British broad leafed trees within 30 km of their Wigton site was selected because NatureFlex is manufactured in Cumbria. The forest is directly owned and managed by co2balance, which will ensure that it is properly maintained into the future. In addition, Innovia Films is contributing to a scheme that distributes ‘solar ovens’ to poor communities in East Africa. This helps to reduce deforestation, cut CO 2 emissions from open stove burning, reduces energy costs and provides health and safety benefits to the users. Other plans include: • Installation of a new higher efficiency line starting 2009 • Further review of raw material impacts, leading to possible changes • Completion of Gas recovery systems across all lines by 2010 • Assessment of alternative technologies at each key process step bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/08] Vol. 3 33

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