Furberg, Anna; Lyng, Kari-Anne; Raadal, Hanne Lerche
In Norway, there is a trend of replacing metal with carton food packaging. However, knowledge on environmental impacts and circularity aspects to inform such a transition have so far been limited. According to a recent review, life cycle assessments (LCAs) of beverage packaging in general do not consider circularity principles to a satisfactory extent (Sazdovski et al., 2021, Sci Tot Env, 771:145322). Thus, previous LCA studies have only provided limited guidance on this matter. The aim of this study is to assess the relative ranking of the metal and carton food packaging in terms of life cycle environmental impacts and circularity. For this, a cradle-to-grave comparative LCA of the environmental impacts associated with metal and carton food packaging in Norway was conducted. Various approaches for modelling of recycling were applied, including cut off and system expansion as well as the more recently developed Circular Footprint Formula (CFF) method. This was done in order to assess how the selected approach affect the relative ranking of metal and carton food packaging products. In addition, the products were assessed applying the Material Circularity Indicator. The results show that the relative ranking of metal and carton food packaging is highly dependent on the selected approach for modelling recycling. Furthermore, the preliminary results show that a high circularity score is not necessarily accompanied by low environmental impacts. The results from this study can be used to inform various actors, such as manufacturers and actors in procurement, on the importance of considering various aspects in strategic and operational decision-making related to material selection for food packaging.