There are published standards for life cycle assessments (LCA) that provide guidance on how to compare different polymers fairly with regard to their environmental impacts. However, the rules still leave sufficient room for manoeuvre to specify the methods by which such comparisons are to be carried out. The fact that there is still a need for more far-reaching, coordinated rules is shown by the ongoing activities on the “Product Environmental Footprint” and in particular by the activities of the Joint Research Center (JRC) on bio-based polymers. The overall objective of these activities is to elaborate on a consistent and appropriate LCA-based method for the purpose of a “Comparative Life-Cycle Assessment of alternative feedstock for plastics production”, including a number of case studies (JRC 2018). The final report is expected by end of the year or early 2020.

The letter focuses on the rather fundamental problems that make a fair comparison hardly possible and which can often be solved only with difficulty and incompletely, both methodically and technically. It also makes a proposal on how the problems could be dealt with in the most targeted way possible.

Read the complete letter here.