Understanding environmental impacts of plastics
As one of the largest suppliers of the plastics methylmethacrylate (MMA) and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), Lucite wanted to understand their environmental impacts. Life cycle analysis gave them this, and helped suggest improvements.
Plastics Europe is a branch industry association dedicated to promoting the use of plastics in different sectors. Member companies are provided with the best average industry data for use in their product assessments. Plastics Europe is in the process of updating the environmental profiles of MMA and PMMA, and needs high quality inventory data. Lucite, one of the world’s largest suppliers of acrylic-based products, was asked to provide the inventory data. Lucite contacted PRé to compile the life cycle inventory data for MMA and PMMA and create the environmental profiles.
Creating robust, high quality inventory data for MMA and PMMA required close collaboration between PRé and Lucite, due to the complexity of the product life cycle and the strict data requirements. The data and data sources were evaluated and verified, based on specific criteria, and reported separately. To create an industry average dataset for MMA and PMMA, Plastics Europe used data from Lucite, as well as from other companies. Without transparency into how the product life cycle was modeled, consolidating datasets is virtually impossible.
For these reasons, PRé carried out a study compliant with the ISO 14040/44 standards, including an independent third party review.
The product life cycle for MMA and PMMA was modelled using the LCA software SimaPro, developed by PRé. The model can be easily shared with interested parties and exported in different formats. For Lucite, the advantage of having a model created with parameters is that the model can be linked to data files for automated updates. The add-on software ReportMaker also allows for automated updates of the monitoring report.
Lucite initially contacted PRé because they needed to provide Plastics Europe with high quality inventory data. Over the course of the project, however, Lucite gained in-depth insight into the environmental profile of MMA and PMMA, and discovered the following benefits:
- Visibility into all environmental impacts, highlighting rawmaterial sourcing as a hotspot
- Benchmark for external product comparison
- Easily updated parameterized model in SimaPro, which can be used for monitoring and reporting
- Relevant ISO compliant study results can be used for B2B communication, as well as consumer communication