Short Communication: Biogenic Carbon in Fast-Moving Products: A Bogus or Real Contribution to Circularity?

25 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2023

See all articles by Ilija Sazdovski

Ilija Sazdovski

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF

Michael Hauschild

Technical University of Denmark

Sergi Arfelis Espinosa

Renmin University of China - School of International Studies

Alba Bala

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Renmin University of China - School of International Studies

Pere Fullana-i-Palmer

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Renmin University of China - School of International Studies

Abstract

Packaging is identified as one of the biggest environmental problems lately and is a focus of scientific research as well as the industry aiming at minimizing environmental impacts. One of the most applied eco-design scenarios is substituting traditional packaging materials with one of bio-based origin. One of the driving incentives for the packaging industry is the calculation of biogenic carbon (BC), even though there is no unified method for the calculation of credits from carbon sequestration.We developed a case study of paper-based packaging and tested the two variables important in the circular economy: (i) material, by modeling three different end-of-life scenarios; (ii) and time, by assessing the importance of this variable on overall calculations of short-lived products, such as packaging. The results of the case study showed that the time variable is critical for the calculation of BC. Credits for carbon sequestration for short-lived products can lead to an overestimation of the impact of storing carbon because the top-down calculus of national inventories developed based on UNFCCC method cannot register the savings due to short sequestration of carbon. Moreover, credits from carbon sequestration lead to undesirable linear pathways of the EoL of packaging material, by giving maximum credits for landfilling of the packaging products.This short communication indicates that we need to invest in additional research to identify the correct way to calculate the carbon credits when using bio-based materials and to improve that practice for calculations of the overall carbon footprint of the short-lived materials in the technosphere.

Keywords: Biogenic Carbon, LCA, Time in LCA, Packaging

Suggested Citation

Sazdovski, Ilija and Hauschild, Michael and Arfelis Espinosa, Sergi and Bala, Alba and Fullana-i-Palmer, Pere, Short Communication: Biogenic Carbon in Fast-Moving Products: A Bogus or Real Contribution to Circularity?. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4525544 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4525544

Ilija Sazdovski (Contact Author)

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF ( email )

Passeig Pujades 1
Barcelona, Barcelona 08003
Spain

Michael Hauschild

Technical University of Denmark ( email )

Anker Engelunds Vej 1
Building 101A
Lyngby, 2800
Denmark

Sergi Arfelis Espinosa

Renmin University of China - School of International Studies ( email )

Xianjin Building
Beijing, 100872
China

Alba Bala

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Renmin University of China - School of International Studies ( email )

Pere Fullana-i-Palmer

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Renmin University of China - School of International Studies ( email )

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