1567 intends to make the most with the least amount of impact relative to food and beverage service single use products. As we are all aware, the demand of single use disposable packaging is increasing as the foodservice industry adjusts to higher volumes of take-out orders during this pandemic period. Additionally, the dining demands of our latest generation appear to be headed toward more take-out type restaurant experiences. Findings of this study greatly impact the scope of products we at 1567 currently choose to promote until better materials including Biomass and Bioplastics are more reliably supported and readily available from our US manufacturing partners. Below are results of a study completed in April 2018 by Franklin Associates, a Division of Eastern Research Group that asked, “If plastic packaging were replaced with alternative types of packaging, how would environmental impacts be affected?”.

“Life Cycle Impacts of Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes in US and Canada” (Franklin Associates, a Division of Eastern Research Group).

  • Alternative packaging such as aluminum, glass, paper-based packaging including corrugated board packaging paper, coated & uncoated cardboard, molded fiber, paper based composites & laminates, steel, fiber based textiles and wood.
  • Plastic packaging includes Polyethylene Terephthalate (#1 PETE), Polyproylene (#5 PP), Polystyrene (#6 EPS and OPS), High Density Polyethylene (#2 HDPE), Polyvinyl Chloride (#3 PVC) and Low Density Polyethylene (#4 LDPE).

Conclusions of this study, U.S. model

Life Cycle Inventory (LCI)

  • Energy Consumption – Alternative Packaging requires approximately 2x the amount of energy as Plastic Packaging
  • Usable Energy Potential – Plastic packaging provides 3x more usable energy potential than Alternatives when recovered and re-used
  • Water Consumption – Alternative Packaging requires almost 6 times more water than Plastic Packaging
  • Solid Waste Consumption – Alternative Packaging produces 5 times more solid waste by weight than Plastic Packaging produces

Life Cycle Inventory Assessment (LCIA)

  • Global Warming Potential – Alternative Packaging has 2x more global warming potential than Plastic Packaging
  • Acidification Potential – Alternative Packaging creates 3x more acidification potential than Plastic Packaging
  • Eutrophication Potential– Alternative Packaging has 54x (yes 54x) the eutrophication potential than Plastic Packaging
  • Smog Formation Potential – Alternative Packaging creates over 3x the smog formation potential than Plastic Packaging
  • Ozone Depletion Potential – Alternative Packaging creates nearly 4x the potential for ozone depletion than Plastic Packaging

These results are presented for broad categories of packaging and do not make comparative assertions as defined by ISO 14040 regarding individual competing plastic and alternative plastics. Nonetheless, it does provide a fair argument for the sustainable benefits of plastic packaging, especially when the recycling waste stream is utilized, as it is structured in operators local area’s.

Plastic packaging has many properties that are vitally important for food and beverage packaging applications including light weight, flexibility, durability and barrier properties. As you see from this studies results, plastic packaging may also be a more efficient choice in terms of environmental impacts.

If you would like to check it out, 172 pages of not so simple reading, (https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Reports-and-Publications/LCA-of-Plastic-Packaging-Compared-to-Substitutes).