Compare how well do business decisions based on attributes such as using recycled content or renewable materials and recyclability or compostability align with environmental impact reduction based on life cycle assessment (LCA). When do they result in net environmental impact reduction and when do they not.
How was the Project Started?
The project was conceived at DEQ to address widespread confusion about the benefits of recycling and other attributes as promoted by various frameworks such as zero waste, circular economy and others.
When was the Project Started?
Project was kicked off in May 2017
When was the Project Completed, or is it Ongoing?
Research will end in June 2018. Additional plain language reports may be generated thereafter – TBD.
What are the Results to Date?
Research is in progress, however preliminary results show that for some attributes such as Recycled Content should be used in measured ways because the implied benefits are only valid under specific conditions. For example, the amount of materials used to make the package and the design is more relevant to lowering the footprint than the amount of recycled content. For others such as compostable packaging, the results are not favorable for the end of life treatment it was designed for. Results are not clear cut for other attributes and suggest that attributes are not as good indicators of environmental benefit as believed.
What are the Resources Needed, including Time, Cost, Etc.?
Research team includes a LCA contractor with a team of up to five researchers on a as needed basis, plus an internal core team of three SME. Contract awarded is $108,000. Research is anticipated to last one year, plus additional time to prepare the content for lay readers in different sectors – packaging, institutional purchasers, solid waste policy, educators, etc.
This project has a potential to influence decisions across a wide range of actors including institutional purchasers, academia, end of life policy, product and package designers and brand owners. An extensive outreach plan is devised which includes basic dissemination of the report(s), webinars, discussion groups, conference presentations and workshops etc.
- Minal Mistry
- Business Initiatives Lead
- Oregon DEQ