Skip to content

LCA Links!

Links to LCA topics found on the web

Archive

Tag: GHG

SONOMA, CA (May 17, 2010) – The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)announced today the release of a new study that provides life cycle inventory (LCI) data for recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic resins. The study’s LCI report indicates that incorporating recycled PET resin in the manufacture of a package significantly reduces the environmental footprint of that package in terms of production energy required and greenhouse gas emissions. 

“This is long-sought-after information for companies that want to include environmental sustainability as one of the ways in which they evaluate their product package options,” said Tom Busard, NAPCOR Chairman and VP Global Procurement and Material Systems for Plastipak Packaging. “There’s no true sustainability without recycling, and this new study confirms and quantifies the environmental benefits of recycling PET. We’re seeing more customers requesting LCIs in order to do Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) so that they can more accurately understand the sustainability profiles of their packaging.” LCAs consider the complete life of a product or package, including the raw materials, manufacturing, and end of life.  

Dennis Sabourin, NAPCOR Executive Director, added, “This is a scientific approach and provides an excellent tool for making informed decisions.” Sabourin went on to emphasize that the sustainability profile and analysis for the PET package must not only take into account its recyclability, and the increasing use of recycled PET resin content in new packaging, but also PET’s inherent performance characteristics: lightweight; shatter-resistant; safe; able to preserve taste and other product characteristics on-shelf; and its suitability to be made significantly lighter without sacrificing performance for a variety of product applications. Fundamentally, packaging exists in order to effectively deliver a product while preserving that product’s quality in a safe, cost effective, and sustainable manner.  

The new LCI study was conducted by Franklin Associates, Ltd. and sponsored jointly by NAPCOR, the PET Resin Association (PETRA). Using life cycle inventory (LCI) methodology, the study determines and quantifies the energy requirements, solid wastes, and atmospheric and waterborne emissions for the processes required to collect postconsumer PET and HDPE packaging, sort and separate the material, and reprocess it into clean recycled resin.  Based on study results, as well as U.S. EPA and Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, the total amount of PET post consumer containers recycled in 2008, if reclaimed in the U.S., would require approximately 30 trillion Btu less energy than the amount of energy that would be required to produce the equivalent tonnage of virgin PET resin; this is equivalent to the annual energy use of 317,000 U.S. homes.  The corresponding savings in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is 1.1 million tons of CO2 equivalents, an amount comparable to taking 189,000 cars off the road. For a single pound of recycled PET flake, the energy use required is reduced by 84%; the GHG emissions, by 71%. 

The new study’s findings are captured in “Final Report – Life Cycle Inventory of 100% Postconsumer HDPE and PET Recycled Resin from Postconsumer Containers and Packaging,” which is available on the sponsor organization web sites, including NAPCOR’s PET Sustainability page, http://www.napcor.com/PET/sustainability.html 

Information from the new study will soon be added to the U.S. Life-Cycle Inventory Database. A project of the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), this is a publicly available database that allows users to review and compare analysis results, http://www.nrel.gov/lci/about.html

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized revisions to the National Renewable Fuel Standard program (commonly known as the RFS program). This rule makes changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard program as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The revised statutory requirements establish new specific annual volume standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that must be used in transportation fuel. The revised statutory requirements also include new definitions and criteria for both renewable fuels and the feedstocks used to produce them, including new greenhouse gas emission (GHG) thresholds as determined by lifecycle analysis. The regulatory requirements for RFS will apply to domestic and foreign producers and importers of renewable fuel used in the U.S.

PRESS RELEASE KEY ISSUES (http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels/420f10007.htm)

This final action lays the foundation for achieving significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from the use of renewable fuels, reductions of imported petroleum and further development and expansion of our nation’s renewable fuels sector.

This action is also setting the 2010 RFS volume standard at 12.95 billion gallons (bg). Further, for the first time, EPA is setting volume standards for specific categories of renewable fuels including cellulosic, biomass-based diesel, and total advanced renewable fuels. For 2010, the cellulosic standard is being set at 6.5 million gallons (mg); biomass based diesel standard is being set at 1.15 bg, (combining the 2009 and 2010 standards as proposed).

In order to qualify for these new volume categories, fuels must demonstrate that they meet certain minimum greenhouse gas reduction standards, based on a lifecycle assessment, in comparison to the petroleum fuels they displace.

For its final determinations, EPA used the best available models and has incorporated updated information based on:

  • significant new scientific data available to the agency
  • rigorous independent peer review
  • extensive public comments

For the fuel pathways modeled, the following meet or exceed the respective required minimum GHG reduction standards:

  • corn based ethanol plants using new efficient technologies,
  • soy based biodiesel,
  • biodiesel made from waste grease, oils, and fats,
  • sugarcane based ethanol

Fuels derived from cellulosic materials meet, and generally significantly exceed, the minimum GHG reduction standard.

COMPLIANCE BASED ON LCA

Compliance with each threshold requires a comprehensive evaluation of renewable fuels, as well as the baseline for gasoline and diesel, on the basis of their lifecycle emissions. As mandated by EISA, the greenhouse gas emissions assessments must evaluate the aggregate quantity of greenhouse gas emissions (including direct emissions and significant indirect emissions such as significant emissions from land use changes) related to the full lifecycle, including all stages of fuel and feedstock production, distribution and use by the ultimate consumer.

EPA’s lifecycle methodology required breaking new scientific ground and using analytical tools in new ways. Throughout the development of EPA’s lifecycle analysis, the Agency employed a collaborative, transparent, and science-based approach. EPA recognizes that as the state of scientific knowledge continues to evolve in this area, the lifecycle GHG assessments for a variety of fuel pathways are likely to be updated.

Therefore, while EPA is using its current lifecycle assessments to inform the regulatory determinations for fuel pathways in this final rule, as required by the statute, the Agency is also committing to further reassess these determinations and lifecycle estimates.

Based on the Agency’s current modeling of specific fuel pathways, which incorporated comments received through the third-party peer review process, and data and information from new studies and public comments, EPA has determined that:

  • Ethanol produced from corn starch at a new (or expanded capacity from an existing) natural gas-fired facility using advanced efficient technologies that  will be most typical of new production facilities complies with the 20% GHG emission reduction threshold
  • Biobutanol from corn starch complies with the 20% GHG threshold
  • Ethanol produced from sugarcane complies with the applicable 50% GHG reduction threshold for the advanced fuel category
  • Biodiesel from soy oil and renewable diesel from waste oils, fats, and greases complies with the 50% GHG threshold for the biomass-based diesel category
  • Diesel produced from algal oils complies with the 50% GHG threshold for the biomass-based diesel category
  • Cellulosic ethanol and cellulosic diesel (based on currently modeled pathways) comply with the 60% GHG reduction threshold applicable to cellulosic biofuels

In addition to finalizing a threshold compliance determination for those pathways shown above that were specifically modeled, the EPA’s technical judgment indicates certain other pathways are likely to be similar enough to modeled pathways that they are also assured these similar pathways qualify. Further, for other fuels, the EPA is establishing a process whereby a biofuel producer can petition the Agency to consider whether their product would be eligible for use in complying with an EISA standard. For additional information on the lifecycle GHG emissions methodology and results for renewable fuel pathways, and details on the petition process, please refer to the Lifecycle GHG Analysis Fact Sheet, EPA420-F-10-006 or the RFS2 preamble on the EPA website here: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels/index.htm