• Frédérique Aline Jean de Barsy
4. term, Sustainable Biotechnology, Master (Master Programme)
b-token, a plastic token manufacturing company, aims to reduce its environmental footprint by replacing fossil-fuel based plastics with alternatives made from renewable and biodegradable resources. Therefore, two bio-based plastics, Solanyl® and Arboform® were selected as these are comparable to polystyrene in terms of mechanical and physical properties. To assist b-token in their future decision-making regarding sustainability strategies, this study aims to measure and identify both environmental benefits and trade-offs of Solanyl® and Arboform® in comparison to polystyrene. Hence, a cradle-to-gate assessment was conducted to quantify the environmental impact of all three plastics.

It was shown that the bio-based plastics could decrease the global warming potential and fossil resource scarcity potential by approximately 40% and 67% respectively, which is likely a result of the biological feedstocks used for Solanyl® and Arboform® resin production. Nevertheless, higher potential impacts were found for land use, eutrophication and fine particulate matter formation, which are primarily caused by agricultural activities and fuel combustion. However, when further considering the end-of-life options, it is though that Solanyl® and Arboform® are more desirable as compositing and mechanical recycling are both possible.

Differences in potential impacts were found comparing just Solanyl® and Arboform®. Indeed, Solanyl® has a more significant potential impact on water use, marine eutrophication and fine particulate matter whereas Arboform® has a more significant potential on land use and freshwater eutrophication. These findings also indicate potential hotspots. It was also found that the composition of both bio-based plastics influences the environmental impact significantly. Hence, there is room for future optimization by focusing on the hotspots and defining the optimum composition.

During this study, high potential impacts were obtained for the toxicity. It is thought that underlying background data, along with the value choices, resulted in overestimated potential toxicity. Hence, further research regarding the toxic impact is recommended in order to determine the absolute impact.
Publication date4 Jun 2020
Number of pages105
External collaboratorb-token
Jonas Douwen jonas@admin.eu
ID: 333529817