A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Energy


ABSTRACT

Life  Cycle  Assessment  (LCA) is a  very powerful  tool  in  Industrial  Ecology.  It  is a  scientific approach to identify and evaluate the environmental impacts throughout the life  cycle of a  process or product, right  from raw material  acquisition  (‘cradle’) through  production, use and disposal (‘grave’). This study deals with performing a comparative  LCA to compare the environmental profiles of two product systems, more specifically the  plates made of ceramics and plates made of biodegradable material such as corn­starch. Energy This project was carried out for the Yale Office of Sustainability, which was created in  2005  to  facilitate  the  process of developing  and  implementing  best  sustainability  practices at Yale.Energy

The Office wished to gain an insight into the environmental impacts of  the plate ware being used at the residential college canteens so that it could recommend  the use of the kind which was least damaging to the environment in the longer run. Energy In  order to  help  them  make  a  well­founded  choice  between  the  alternatives, comparative  LCA  using  SimaPro  7.1  software  was performed.  Developed  by  PRé  Consultants, Netherlands; the software  enables users to model  and  analyze  complex life  cycles in  a  systematic and transparent manner.Energy

After defining the  goal  and scope of the LCA, information was gathered  from  various sources, and  using  the software,  the  environmental  impacts of the  two  kinds of plates were compared. It was found that for the same functional unit, the environmental impact  of  ceramic  plates was 5  times that  of  the  biodegradable  plates. However, a  minimum  number of reuses of the ceramic plate to make the associated environmental impact equal  to or smaller than that associated with the single­use biodegradable plate was calculated  and  was found  to  be  50. Therefore, the  choice  from  an  environmental  point  of view should be in favour of reusable i.e. ceramic plates.Energy