Food packaging provides many vital functions including protection, storage and preservation of products, as well as, information to consumers. However, the overall packaging life cycle generates significant environmental impacts since its production exploits natural resources and energy and causes environmental emissions. Moreover, packaging wastes generate increasing disposal issues, being the second largest fraction of municipal wastes after the organic fraction.
During the last years there is focus on the environmental performance of juice packaging systems. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and Tetra Pak multilayer packaging arethe dominant juice packaging options. Life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques are used to improve the understanding, as well as, to compare the environmental characteristics of different packaging systems.
This research assesses the environmental impact of the two commonest juice packaging options, including their production along with their final disposal (landfilling, incineration and recycling). The aim is to compare the footprints of PET and Tetra Pak packaging, identify the hot spots and finally discover the most environmentally benign juice packaging. LCA was performed using GABI software, following the ISO 14040 series recommendations, while the impact assessment was carried out using ReCiPe 2016.
The results showed that Tetra Pak was environmentally superior to alternative PET packaging in 12 of the 18 total impact categories. In fact, their differences were significant in climate change and fossil depletion caegories, the environmental importance of which is assessed by the Federal Environment Agency as "very high" and "high" respectively. Considering the extended shelf life of juices with Tetra Pak, andthe reduced environmental footprint, it can be concluded that there are clear environmental advantages for multilayer Tetra Pak juice packaging over PET bottles.
Keywords: climate change, environmental footprint, end-of