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ECOBILAN Life Cycle Analysis of Fish Boxes in three materials across three EU countries
January 2012 | Executive Summary
Executive Summary – the background to the study
The aim of this independently-assessed life cycle analysis was to obtain reliable and up-to-date information on the environmental performance of EPS packaging for fresh fish and seafood products compared with other materials being offered.
The analysis is based on the comparison of three packaging solutions – EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) boxes, corrugated cardboard boxes and polypropylene boxes) and to ensure relevance to actual market circumstances across Europe, the study used real market scenarios using actual operating conditions from Spain, France and Scandinavia.
Executive Summary – overall conclusions
This study used expert knowledge and data from a number of sources including input from ANAPE, EcoPSE, EUMEPS, several industry partners and the leading international consultancy Price Waterhouse Coopers Consulting.
It has revealed important conclusions.
EPS is a highly competitive and provably sustainable packaging material for fresh fish with demonstrably better (or at the least comparable) LCA performance results across most of the environmental indicators used in the markets tested.
The LCA also shows that the excellent performance of EPS has even further potential for improvement through reduced energy usage in manufacture and better recycling options in the future.
Executive Summary – objectives and methodology
Assessment of the true environmental impacts of EPS packaging.
Methodology / Data collection:
“Cradle-to-grave” Study, reflecting the full life cycle of each packaging system
Comparative study for three alternative fish box solutions
Reference Scenarios for Spain, France, Scandinavia
4kg fresh fish from local harbour in France to local fish market
6kg fresh fish from local harbour in Spain to local fish market
20kg fresh fish from local fisheries in Denmark to international fish market
Executive Summary – key data
Executive Summary – EPS performance by market scenario
On the French market of the 8 environmental indicators, EPS performed better than cardboard in 4 and was at least comparable in 3. EPS also performed better than Polypropylene in 2 indicators and was at least comparable in 5.
For Spanish Market of the 8 environmental indicators, EPS performed better than cardboard in 5 and was at least comparable in 2. EPS also performed better than Polypropylene in 3 indicators and was at least comparable in 3.
For the Scandinavian market of the 8 environmental indicators, EPS performed better than cardboard in 3 and was at least comparable in 1. EPS also performed better than Polypropylene in 1 indicator and was at least comparable in 5.
Executive Summary – further significant potential for EPS
The LCA indicates that two main stages of the life cycle of fish boxes have the greatest impact upon the environment:
Production of raw material
Production of finished packaging
By continuing its energy reduction efforts, the EPS industry has the potential to further improve its advantages over other materials.
An optimised end of life recycling effort would also offer the potential for further LCA advantages.
Highly efficient manufacture and localised production units mean EPS is a low-cost, proven solution
The 2% polystyrene cellular matrix gives outstanding impact resistance
EPS is insoluble and non-hygroscopic
Styrene for EPS is a byproduct of refining but is also abundant in natural products
Hygienic & Safe
EPS is non-toxic, chemically inert, and fungi and bacteria cannot grow on it
Clean manufacturing technologies mean minimal energy and water inputs with no production waste
Unique insulation performance keeps fish safe and eradicates waste
EPS is effectively 98% air, minimising weight impacts in transportation
EPS packaging is easily recyclable where facilities exist
Why use EPS?
EUMEPS is the association for European Manufacturers of Expanded Polystyrene. It represents converters of expandable polystyrene (EPS) to lobby and promote their interests in Europe. EUMEPS navigates the political and regulatory landscape in Europe and ensure that our voice is heard and the benefits of EPS as a construction and packaging material is understood.
EUMEPS’s vision as an association is simple: “To present a unified industry with a strong image and powerful voice”. This is done by providing a comprehensive service to all our members, allowing them to benefit from collective resources, knowledge and expertise in strategic areas of relevance to the industry.Find out more here