John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Life cycle assessment of waste prevention in the delivery of pasta, breakfast cereals and rice

Waste prevention is the top priority of the European waste management strategy. In fact, as indicated in the latest Waste Framework Directive, the best option to deal with waste is not to generate it at all. In this framework, the distribution of loose dry food products through self‐dispensing systems (so‐called “loose distribution”) is being considered worldwide as a practice to reduce packaging waste generation. This life cycle assessment evaluates the environmental convenience of the loose distribution of dry pasta, breakfast cereals and rice, in comparison with the traditional method of distribution. For each product, several baseline scenarios based on single‐use packaging were compared with different waste prevention scenarios where the product is distributed loose. The comparison addressed waste generation, thirteen impact categories on the environment and human health, and the Cumulative Energy Demand indicator. The results are significantly different for the three products. The loose distribution of pasta allows a 50% waste reduction and a decrease in the potential impacts only when compared with single‐use cartonboard boxes. Conversely, when the comparison is made with single‐use polypropylene bags, the loose distribution can even cause an increase in waste generation (up to 15%) and in the potential life cycle impacts. For breakfast cereals, the loose distribution allows a significant reduction in both the amount of waste (up to 84%) and the potential impacts compared to the sale of traditional single‐use bag‐in‐box packages. Finally, the loose distribution of rice permits a reduction in both waste generation (up to 86%) and most of the potential impacts. In particular, the impact reduction is higher when the reference single‐use packaging that is replaced includes a cartonboard box. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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