Environmental impact assessment of three packages for high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Submitted: 4 November 2015
Accepted: 7 September 2016
Published: 15 December 2016
Abstract Views: 2485
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Life cycle assessments of food packaging technologies have shown that they contribute considerably to the environmental impact of products. This study analyses the life cycle impact of three packaging solutions for high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Two of them are widely used solutions, namely tin plated cans and dimmed glass bottles. The third one is a stainless steel bottle, which has been proposed recently. The analysis was performed with a cradle to grave approach and it takes into account raw materials extraction and processing, packaging production processes and several end-of-life scenarios. Impacts due to distribution were considered separately to assess uncertainties due to distribution distances. The results show that, for same sizes, dimmed glass bottles have the lowest overall impact value for all the six indicators selected except for ozone layer depletion, whereas stainless steel bottles have the highest impact values for all the other indicators. A sensitivity analysis was performed to determine how impact varies in function of distance and packaging weight. It shows that it is possible to set a breakeven point over which the impact of glass overcomes the one of the other packaging systems. Packaging shows a significant contribution to impact of bottled oil. For small packaging, such as a 0.100 L stainless steel bottle, this contribution can be as relevant as 60% of the overall global warming potential.

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Guiso, A., Parenti, A., Masella, P., Guerrini, L., Baldi, F. and Spugnoli, P. (2016) “Environmental impact assessment of three packages for high-quality extra-virgin olive oil”, Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 47(4), pp. 191–196. doi: 10.4081/jae.2016.515.