LCI Databases Sensitivity Analysis of the Environmental Impact of the Injection Molding Process
Published: 31 March 2015 by MDPI in Sustainability
MDPI, Volume 7; 10.3390/su7043792
Abstract: During the last decades, society’s concern for the environment has increased. Specific tools like the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and software and databases to apply this method have been developed to calculate the environmental burden of products or processes. Calculating the environmental impact of plastic products is relevant as the global plastics production rose to 288 million tons in 2012. Among the different ways of processing plastics, the injection molding process is one of the most used in the industry worldwide. In this paper, a sensitivity analysis of the environmental impact of the injection molding process has been carried out. In order to perform this study, the EcoInvent database inventory for injection molding, and the data from which this database is created, have been studied. Generally, when an LCA of a product is carried out, databases such as EcoInvent, where materials, processes and transports are characterized providing average values, are used to quantify the environmental impact. This approach can be good enough in some cases but in order to assess a specific production process, like injection molding, a further level of detail is needed. This study shows how the final results of environmental impact differ for injection molding when using the PVC’s, PP’s or PET’s data. This aspect suggests the necessity of studying, in a more precise way, this process, to correctly evaluate its environmental burden. This also allows us to identify priority areas and thereby actions to develop a more sustainable way of manufacturing plastics.
Keywords: environmental impact, LCA, injection molding process