Impact of the use of renewable materials on ecoefficiency of manufacturing processes

2013-10-09T14:11:09Z (GMT) by James Colwill Shahin Rahimifard
The use of renewable materials has attracted interest from a wide range of manufacturing industries looking to reduce their environmental and carbon footprints. As such, the development and use of biopolymers has been largely driven by their perceived environmental benefits over conventional polymers. However, often these environmental claims, when challenged, are lacking in substance. One reason for this is the lack of quality data for all life cycle stages. This applies to the manufacturing stages of packaging, otherwise known as ‘packaging conversion’, where for certain product/production types, a reduction in energy consumption of 25–30% from lower processing temperatures can be offset by an increase in pressure, cycle times and reject rates. The ambiguity of the overall environmental benefit achieved during this stage of the life cycle, when this is the main driver for their use, highlights the need for a clearer understanding of impact that such materials have on the manufacturing processes.