Resource Efficiency and Carbon Footprint Minimization in Manufacture of Plastic Products
Efficient resource management, waste prevention, as well as renewable resource consumption promote sustainable production and lower greenhouse gas emissions to the environment when manufacturing plastic products.
The paper presents the analysis of the efficiency of resources and the potential of carbon footprint minimization in manufacture of plastic products by means of implementation of wood-plastic composite (WPC) production. The analysis was performed using life cycle assessment and material flow analysis methodology. To devise the solution for better management of resources and minimization of carbon footprint, the environmental impacts of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and WPC wall panels through their life cycle were assessed, as well as the detailed material flow analyses of the PVC and WPC in production stages were carried out.
The life cycle assessment has revealed that carbon footprints throughout life cycle of 1 kg of WPC wall panel are 37 % lower than those of the same weight of PVC wall panel product. Both products have a major impact on the environment during their production phase, while during this phase WPC wall panel has 35 % smaller carbon footprint and even 47 % smaller during disposal stages than those of the PVC wall panel.
The results of material flow analysis have shown that recycling and reuse of production spoilage reduce the need of PVC secondary resources for PVC panels and primary WPC resources for WPC panel production.
For better resource efficiency, the conceptual model of material flow management has been proposed. As WPC products are made of primary WPC granules, which are imported from abroad, the model suggests to produce the WPC granules at the company using collected PVC secondary materials (PVC stocks). It would lower environmental costs and environmental impact, increase the efficiency of resources, and diminish dependence on suppliers.