an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Alice Brock - Faculty of Engineering and the Environment , University of Southampton , United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Ian D. Williams - Faculty of Engineering and the Environment , University of Southampton , United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

DOI 10.31025/2611-4135/2020.14025

Released under CC BY-NC-ND

Copyright: © 2019 CISA Publisher

Editorial History

  • Received: 14 Nov 2019
  • Revised: 28 Apr 2020
  • Accepted: 25 May 2020
  • Available online: 05 Oct 2020


Global plastic production has been increasing annually since World War II and is currently 380 million tonnes. Global concern about pollution from plastics in the seas and the environmental costs of plastics manufacture is rising. This study aimed to: i) review the costs, benefits, advantages / disadvantages of plastics as packaging materials and ii) use life cycle assessment to determine if there is less environmentally impactful beverage packaging than plastic bottles. As different beverages have different packaging needs, three categories were used: commonly used containers for milk, fruit juice and pressurised ‘fizzy’ drinks. The packaging types included in the assessment were glass bottles, aluminium cans, milk cartons, Tetra Pak, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and high-density polythene (HDPE) bottles. The ISO 14040:2006 and ISO 14044:2006 standards for life cycle assessment formed the basis of the methodology. The open source software openLCA was used to conduct the assessments. Data was assembled from LCA databases such as the European reference Life Cycle Database of the Joint Research Center (ELCD), existing life cycle assessments, scientific reports and peer reviewed literature. The functional unit was set at a container that held one litre of fluid. The results found that in each category there was a less impactful beverage packaging than plastic bottles. In the Pressurised Beverage Category, 100% recycled aluminium cans would be the least impactful option, in the Fruit Juice Beverage Category Tetra Pak would be the least impactful option and in the Milk Beverage Category milk cartons would be the least impactful option.



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