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Flexo Sustainable : Earth Day 2014
New Study Examines Plastic Packaging’s Substitutability If plastic packaging were replaced with alternative types of packaging, how would energy consumption and green- house gas emissions be affected?” That is the central question posed in a recent study by Franklin Associates and the answer is: a lot. More specifically: Global Warming Potential (GWP) savings are between 75 million metric tons of CO2 and almost 90 mil- lion metric tons of CO2 by using plastics, with corresponding energy savings of nearly 1,100 billion-MJ (cumulative energy demand) and more than 1,300 billion-MJ (expended energy). STUDY DETAILS Packaging is an ever increasing area of focus today, as businesses’ concern over their environmental footprint grows, the study says. Simultaneously, packaging “accounts for more than one third of sales and captive use of thermoplastic resins.” T he components considered, from highest to lowest percentage of weight of plastic packaging, are: Other rigid packaging (includes the subcategories non- bulk rigid packaging, rigid protective packaging and rigid bulk packaging) Other flexible packaging (includes the subcategories con- verted flexible packaging, flexible protective packaging and flexible bulk packaging) • Beverage packaging • Carrier bags • Shrink and stretch film • Caps and closures The study factors in various life cycle stages of packaging materials, including raw material production, fabrication of the packaging, distri- bution/transportation, postconsumer disposal and recycling. Data was composed from Freedonia Market Reports from 2007 through 2011, as well as ACC 2012 Resins Review, life cycle analysis reports and packaging case studies. As Table 1 illustrates, GWP savings come in at 75.8 million metric tons of CO2 with no decomposition (includes “ biogenic CO2 sequestration credit for all the biogenic carbon in land- filled packaging) and 89.6 million metric tons of CO2 with “maximum decomposition” (“maximum decom- position of uncoated paper and pa- perboard packaging that is disposed in landfills”). Energy savings are reported in two ways: Cumulative energy demand, which “includes all fossil and nonfossil energy expended as process energy and transportation energy, as well as the feedstock energy embodied in the packaging material” and expended energy, which “excludes the energy embodied in the packaging material.” The numbers here: 1,110 billion-MJ and 1,093 billion-MJ in cumulative energy demand, and 1,373 billion-MJ and 1,357 billion-MJ in expended energy (no decom- position and maximum decomposition, respectively). These numbers are meaningful by themselves but are given more weight when compared to other “savings equiv- alencies,” such as passenger vehicles or barrels of oil. Table 2 places the GWP, cumulative energy demand and expended energy savings against several such equivalencies, creating comparisons between potentially more tangible units of mea- surement. As the report puts succinctly: “ On a U.S . level, to substitute the 14.4 million metric tons of plastic packaging in the six packaging categories analyzed, more than 64 million metric tons of other types of packaging would be required. The substitute packaging would require 80 percent more cumulative energy demand and result in 130 percent more global warming potential impacts, expressed as CO2 equivalents, compared to the equivalent plastic packag- “ Executive Summary CLIENTS\ACC\KC142527 01.08.14 3860.00.001.005 11 respectively. Comparative GWP and CED results for categories of packaging within each geographic scope are shown in Figure ES–3 and Figure ES–4 for US packaging and in Figure ES–5 and Figure ES–6 for Canada. Table ES–2. Savings for Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes – US Scope Table ES–3. Savings for Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes – Canadian Scope No Decomp Maximum Decomp No Decomp Maximum Decomp No Decomp Maximum Decomp Caps & Cl osures (0.28) (0.05) (38.8) (39.0) (1.53) (1.68) Beverage Containers 9.70 9.60 118 117 204 203 Stretch & Shrink 10.5 11.1 180 178 161 159 Carrier Bags 8.65 10.6 72.6 71.4 123 122 Other Flexible 26.8 37.7 725 714 651 640 Other Rigid 20.4 20.7 52.7 52.3 236 235 Total 75.8 89.6 1,110 1,093 1,373 1,357 Savings for Plastic Packaging Relative to Substitute P ackaging, by Category, US Global Warming Potential (million metric tonnes CO2 eq) Cumulative Energy Demand (billion MJ) Expended Energy (billion MJ) No Decomp Maximum Decomp No Decomp Maximum Decomp No Decomp Maximum Decomp Caps & Cl osures 0.0011 0.018 (3.30) (3.32) (0.23) (0.25) Beverage Containers 0.47 0.43 8.27 7.81 14.9 14.5 Stretch & Shrink 2.34 2.40 35.1 34.2 33.0 32.1 Carrier Bags 3.70 3.99 43.9 43.4 48.6 48.1 Other Flexible 4.72 6.43 101 96.5 94.3 89.5 Other Rigid 4.55 4.59 35.8 35.6 55.8 55.6 Total 15.8 17.9 221 214 246 240 Savings for Plastic Packaging Relative to Substitute Packaging, by Category, Canada Global Warming Potential (million metric tonnes CO2 eq) Cumulative Energy Demand (billion MJ) Expended Energy (billion MJ) Table 1: Savings for Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes – U.S . Scope Executive Summary CLIENTS\ACC\KC142527 01.08.14 3860.00.001.005 15 Table ES–4. Energy and Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Factors Table ES–5. Savings for US Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes Equivalency Basis* MJ kg CO2 eq Passenger vehicles per year 21.5 mpg, 11,493 miles trave led 70,495 4,841 Barrels of crude oil 42 gallons per barrel 6,119 432 Tanker truck of gas 8,500 gallons per tanker 1.12E+06 7.58E+04 Railcar of coal 90.89 metric tons coal per railcar 2.64E+06 2.33E+05 Coal-fired power plant emissions 1.6 billion metric tons CO2 emitted by 457 coal-fired plants in 2009 3.53E+09 Oil supertanker 2 million barrels crude oil per tanker 1.22E+10 8.64E+08 *Detailed supporting calculations for the CO2 equivalencies, including energy content and combustion emissions for each form of fuel, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy- resources/refs.html. Energy equivalencies were also calculated using information from this website. The oil supertanker equivalencies are not found directly in the calculator but are based on 2 million barrels per supertanker (from the Ameri can Merchant Seaman's Manual), multiplied by thecalculator results for one barrel of crude oil. No Decomp Max Decomp No Decomp Max Decomp No Decomp Max Decomp Total for Plastic Packaging 58.6 1,357 703 Total for Substitutes 134 148 2,466 2,450 2,076 2,060 Savings for Plastics 75.8 89.6 1,110 1,093 1,373 1,357 Substitutes % Higher than Plastics 129% 153% 82% 81% 195% 193% Savings Equivalencies 15.7 18.5 15.7 15.5 19.5 19.2 176 207 181 179 224 222 1,000 1,182 990 976 1, 225 1,210 326 385 420 414 519 513 21 25 88 104 91 89 112 111 Compari son of Plastic Pack agi ng and Substitute Packaging, US Global Warming Potential (million metric tonnes CO2 eq) Cumulative Ene rgy Demand (billion MJ) Expended Energy (billion MJ) Oil supertanke rs Million passenger vehicles per year Million barrels of oil Thousand tank er trucks of gasoline Thousand railcars of coal Coal-fired powe r plants (annual emissions) Table 2: Savings for U.S. Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes 2 Sustainable FLEXO | EARTH DAY 2014