The importance of a Life Cylce Assessment (LCA)
A Life cycle assessment is a cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-cradle analysis technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life: from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, and use.
GCR Group collaborated with the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change (ESCI-UPF) to develop a doctoral thesis to evaluate environmental profile of plastic packaging including Granic products (mineral masterbatches).
The study started with a detailed literature survey to better understand the environmental impacts achieved by replacing plastics with mineral fillers (such as CaCO3 or talc). The results were so promising that the PhD study focused on some real market cases, like separating sheets and cosmetic tubes, together with third parties/customers.
The study followed the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, which is a commonly accepted tool used to identify the environmental impacts of packaging.
One of the studies consisted in the replacement of eucalyptus wood sheets by plastic compound sheets made of virgin PP, recycled PP and Granic 1081 and 1522. These sheets are used at GCR Group to separate stacked pallets to prevent them from damaging each other during storage.
As opposed to what is commonly believed, the results of the study showed that plastic compound sheets are an environmentally better alternative than eucalyptus wood for this specific application, mainly thanks to the use of Granic products. By including Granic, we provide advanced properties to the product, which results in higher number of reuses and longer lifetime. In addition to that, plastic sheets weight less than wood and they are recycled at the company once their lifetime is over, which also contributes to the enforcement of the GCR Group’s circular economy strategy -See Figure below-.
The study is a good example of the application of the LCA methodology to make enviromentally friendlier solutions for the industry. In addition, the results of the study proved the clear advantages of using mineral masterbatches to improve the environmental profile of plastic packaging.