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Circularity Entanglement: Selecting Appropriate Circularity Indicator, Study of Secondary Packaging for Fresh Food Distribution in Spain

26 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2023 Publication Status: Published

See all articles by Ilija Sazdovski

Ilija Sazdovski

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF

Laura Batlle-Bayer

Université de Lomé - Chair Unesco

Alba Bala

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

María Margallo

University of Cantabria

Sahar Azarkamand

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF

Rubén Aldaco

University of Cantabria

Pere Fullana-i-Palmer

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

Abstract

Sustainable packaging is a crucial focus in the context of circular economy efforts. This study evaluates the circularity of two secondary packaging systems used in Spanish fresh food produces: Reusable Plastic Crates and Single-use Cardboard Boxes. A Mass Flow Analysis was performed to assess the material flows in the production and use phases of both systems and two circular indicators were applied: the Material Circularity Indicator and Product Circular Indicator. While most previous studies for single-use packaging use these indicators at the product level, this study applies a system approach since the Reusable Plastic Crates can be reused 100 times. The functional unit was defined as the distribution of 1,000 tonnes of fresh products, resulting in the distribution of 6,666,700 packages with 15 kg of products. The Material Circularity Indicator and Product Circular Indicator results show that Reusable Plastic Crate is more circular than Single-use Cardboard Boxes. The Product Circular Indicator provides a more comprehensive assessment of circularity by considering multiple life cycle stages, efficiency, and unrecoverable waste, resulting in a difference in circularity evaluations. The indicators used have limitations as they do not consider the resource stock. Further research is needed to explore this aspect.

Keywords: circular economy, Circularity indicators, LCA, Sustainable packaging, supply chain, Reusable plastic crates

Suggested Citation

Sazdovski, Ilija and Batlle-Bayer, Laura and Bala, Alba and Margallo, María and Azarkamand, Sahar and Aldaco, Rubén and Fullana-i-Palmer, Pere, Circularity Entanglement: Selecting Appropriate Circularity Indicator, Study of Secondary Packaging for Fresh Food Distribution in Spain. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4646483 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4646483

Ilija Sazdovski (Contact Author)

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

Passeig Pujades 1
Barcelona, Barcelona 08003
Spain

Laura Batlle-Bayer

Université de Lomé - Chair Unesco ( email )

Alba Bala

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

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

María Margallo

University of Cantabria ( email )

Sahar Azarkamand

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

Passeig Pujades 1
Barcelona, Barcelona 08003
Spain

Rubén Aldaco

University of Cantabria ( email )

Avda. Los Castros, s/n
Santander 39005
Spain

Pere Fullana-i-Palmer

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

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

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