Life Cycle Assessment
The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a methodology for assessing some environmental impacts of a product over its entire ‘life cycle’. It lists all inputs and outputs at every production stage, from extraction of the necessary raw materials to the production, transport, consumption, and waste processing and uses them to calculate some environmental impacts (acidification, greenhouse gas emissions, eutrophication, etc.).
In the EU, a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology has been developed, which introduces a more refined Life Cycle Assessment methodology (e.g. specific product category rules; requirements on data quality; additional aspects to the description of the functional unit; increased reproducibility, consistency, and comparability of results). FEVE has been an active member of the Product Environmental Footprint pilot phase for food and beverages (on Wine, Packed Water, Beer, Olive Oil and Dairy Products).
The glass industry has invested significant resources in undertaking Life Cycle Analyses to identify hot spots and the environmental performance of glass products across their entire life cycle to continuously improve it. However, LCAs, including the PEF, don’t assess certain key characteristics of a packaging material, such as extended shelf life and quality preservation, for which glass is a clear leader – while these are key to preserve human health and well-being. LCAs do not address littering nor closed loop recycling. For these and other reasons, there is much debate about the validity and the completeness of the LCA methodology.
FEVE cautions that the PEF methods have large gaps, which need to be addressed to make it a robust tool that can be the basis of a reliable methodology for businesses and consumers and recommend the European Commission to continue working with stakeholders to bring methodological innovation in the PEF, address its current gaps, improve its robustness and reliability, and continuously update the datasets.
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New Life Cycle Assessment proves industry success in reducing environmental footprint