MO.3.D || Addressing Marine Litter Within Life Cycle Assessment and Management

Szablewski, Carolina; Lemaire, Honorine; Bâtis, Antoine; Yogarajah Croos, Amrutha; Torche, Maissae; Leclercq, Clémence; Bolle, Clément; Schrijvers, Dieuwertje; Adibi, Naeem

Plastics have become essential in many aspects of today’s life, used for textile, health, packaging, building and a multitude of consumer goods. One of plastic’s most outstanding properties, its durability, is also one of the main reasons why plastics are a danger to marine life. As marine debris are not assessed in the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), there is a need to develop a reliable methodology to forecast the plastic litter impact. This contribution aims to illustrate a framework for integrating impact assessment of marine plastics in LCA, developed by MDIP (Marine Debris Impact Project). This contribution focuses on integrating marine plastic debris impact in LCA, proposing a new impact assessment pathway. The methodology attempts to respond to this issue by defining parameters that consider the impacts on biodiversity and humans. The proposed method is based on the plastic chains (assessed in kg PET-eq), considering the life cycle of plastic from its production to its end of life. A set of parameters is developed to define scores for each characterised flow. Nevertheless, hypotheses and assumptions were made when defining the parameters due to a lack of data. The case study approved the effectiveness and coherence of the method as the results seem coherent and satisfying. But it is difficult to assess their accuracy due to the lack of comparable studies. Thus, other studies should allow to assess this methodology’s efficiency more clearly and improve it. In the face of the urgency of action and the need for efficient metrics, it should not be forgotten that common-sense solutions rely on avoiding littering or plastic over-usage. Such solutions need to be put in place immediately. Besides, sound waste management strategies would be beneficial in areas where they lack and public awareness. These are small scale actions yet achievable and would erase our plastic impact on the marine environment.