Life Cycle Assessment of PLA in the food packaging sector

This project is available from the academic year 2024/25 onwards.

Theme: Environmental Hazards & Pollution

Primary Supervisor:

Eleni Iacovidou

Life Sciences, Brunel

Eleni Iacovidou's Profile Picture

Secondary Supervisor:

Olwenn Martin

Arts Sciences, UCL

Olwenn Martin's Profile Picture

Project Description:

The sustainability of bio-based plastics placed on the food packaging market is questionable. It is believed that production and use of bio-based alternatives to petrochemical-based plastics may lead to negative unintended consequences. This project will investigate the production and use of polylactic acid (PLA) introduced in the food packaging value chain, including all processes involved in its life cycle from raw material extraction and processing, to manufacture, distribution and use of PLA products. Using multivariate analysis it will explore the sustainability of different end-of-life management options (such as landfill, incineration, composting, anaerobic digestion) using a scenario-based approach. Via the use of a novel decision matrix the study will culminate the positive and negative impacts (positive and negative) of PLA introduced in the food packaging value chain, to guide decisions on its sustainability performance in different contexts.

Policy Impact of Research:

The study will generate important insights that can contribute towards understanding the hotspots and blindspots in substituting petrochemical-based plastics with bio-based alternatives in the food packaging sector. This will generate useful recommendations for policy-makers, and support the future decision-making processes.

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