LCA Practices of Plastics and Their Recycling: A Critical Review

Timothy M. Kousemaker, Gerald H. Jonker, Antonis I. Vakis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In a bid to help address the environmental footprints associated with products and services, life cycle assessment (LCA) applications have become increasingly popular throughout the years. This review summarizes some important methodological developments in recent years, such as the advent of dynamic LCA, as well as highlighting recent LCA applications in the context of plastics/recycling with a focus on their methodological choices. Furthermore, this review aims to offer a set of possible research lines to improve the gap between LCA and decision-making (policy). It was found that the majority of reviewed papers are mostly conservative in their methodological practice, employing mostly static analyses and making little use of other methods. In order to bridge the gap between LCA and policy, it is suggested to broaden system boundaries through the integration of dynamic modelling methods, incorporating interactions between fore- and background systems, and including behavioral components where relevant. In addition, advanced sampling routines to further explore and assess the policy space are recommended. This is of paramount importance when dealing with recycling processes as the molecules/polymers constituting the output of those processes have to be benchmarked in terms of costs and, crucially, their sustainability character against virgin ones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3305
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Sciences
Volume11
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2021

Keywords

  • LCA
  • dynamic LCA
  • recycling
  • policy
  • multi method
  • dynamic modeling
  • LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT
  • IMPACT ASSESSMENT
  • DYNAMIC LCA
  • SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT
  • PACKAGING SYSTEMS
  • PART 1
  • END
  • WASTE
  • COMPOSITES
  • FRAMEWORK

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