5 Reasons LCA is essential to Package Design
Life-Cycle Assessment or LCA is a cradle-to-grave analysis that calculates environmental impacts associated with all stages of a package’s lifecycle including material sourcing, manufacturing, conversion, distribution, and end-of-life. The life cycle approach accounts for environmental impacts associated with the materials and processes used to bring packaging to market and allows decision makers to incorporate environmental parameters alongside economic factors. Here are 5 reasons why you should start using LCA today.
- Companies can perform LCA to assess and baseline environmental performance of packages. Obtaining a package’s baseline is an essential step in measuring environmental performance improvements in future package designs. LCA provides specific and reliable data on a wide range of environmental indicators including resource consumption and emission metrics.
- Innovation: LCA can be an essential eco-innovation technique that identifies “hotspots” or problem areas that a company should focus on to improve the environmental standing of their packaging. LCA forces companies to reevaluate every stage of package development from material selection and sourcing these materials to end-of-life scenarios.
- Better Product Development Decisions: LCA can be used as part of an interactive stage-gate process to evaluate the environmental impacts of design decisions at each stage of package development. Being able to make crucial primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging decisions early in the design process goes a long way towards facilitating sustainable packaging goals. Using LCA also gives companies the ability to screen for toxic materials and find environmentally friendly substitutes.
- Focusing on a few simple goals isn’t enough: LCA can illuminate tradeoffs and make sure that your goals are having the intended consequences. For example, a company might focus all of their effort into light weighting a package when the materials themselves are the bigger concern. Another common misperception is that “recyclability always improves environmental performance.” For some materials, this is clearly the case, but other times the outcome is not so obvious. Materials that may use renewable energy in virgin material production or have inefficient recovery systems may make this and other assumptions dangerous. LCA should be used to validate such assumptions in order to make informed material decisions.
- Screening LCA- Its quicker and easier than ever: New screening or ‘lite’ LCA tools have hit the market, which facilitate baselining and decision making without devoting the time and resources to a full LCA. COMPASS Comparative Packaging Assessment is a leading ‘lite’ LCA tool that uses industry averages for different material and production processes to give package designers a holistic view of their package’s environmental performance. The COMPASS application was developed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition in an effort to easily incorporate environmental performance indications into the design process.
Get a free trial today at design-compass.org