FPA Publishes E-commerce Streamlined LCA Case Studies

The Flexible Packaging Association’s (FPA) Sustainability Life Cycle and Economic Impacts of Flexible Packaging in E-commerce Report provides a holistic view of the sustainability benefits that flexible packaging offers in e-commerce and quantifies the environmental and economic shipping impacts by comparing flexible packaging to other formats across a range of products.

For the report, FPA partnered with PTIS, LLC, and five different LCA case studies were developed using the EcoImpact-COMPASS® LCA software, which allows for quick life cycle comparisons between different package formats:

  • Peanut butter packaging;
  • Cereal packaging;
  • Shoe packaging;
  • Laundry detergent packaging; and
  • E-commerce mailer.

All primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging, including dunnage from the packages, were used for the assessment. Dunnage is a filler that is used to prevent a product from shifting during shipping, resulting in product damage. Dunnage may be either paper or plastic based, and includes crumpled paper, corrugated inserts, air pillows, and bubble wrap.

A dimensional weight and economics comparison for e-commerce was also developed to highlight that the flexible packaging formats demonstrated clear and distinct advantages in reducing the dimensional weight across the product categories.

Additionally, the product-to-package ratio and the amount of packaging that is landfilled for 1,000 kilograms of each product was determined. The amount of packaging landfilled was based on the recycling rates for each material while assuming none of the flexible packages were recycled.

Most flexible packaging used in e-commerce applications, including bubble dunnage or poly mailers, are made of LDPE, which can be recycled with grocery bags and other films as part of the store drop-off program. These materials can qualify for the How2Recycle® store drop-off designation if they go through the certification process.

The results from many of the case studies show that flexible packaging has more preferable environmental attributes for carbon impact, fossil fuel usage, water usage, as well as material disposed of when compared to other package formats. This is due to the efficient use of resources enabled by flexible packaging.

 

For more information, visit https://www.flexpack.org.

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