Europe New Study Shows Paper-based, Single-use Packaging Offers Reduced Environmental Impact than Reusable Packaging

Jan. 15, 2021 – A new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study, conducted by engineering consultancy Ramboll for the European Paper Packaging Alliance (EPPA) demonstrates the significant environmental benefits of single-use products compared to re-use systems particularly in saving carbon emission and freshwater consumption.


The LCA compares the environmental impact of paper-based single use packaging with the footprint of reusable tableware in Quick Service Restaurants across Europe. The study takes into account a comprehensive use of 24 different food and beverage containers in Quick Service Restaurants namely cold/hot cup, salad bowl with lid, wrap/plate/clamshell/cover, ice cream cup, cutlery set, fry bag/basket fry carton.

According to the baseline scenario, the polypropylene-based multi-use system is responsible for generating over 2.5 times more CO2 emissions and using 3.6 times more freshwater than the paper-based single-use system. The reason for this is that multi-use tableware requires significant amounts of energy and water to be washed, sanitized and dried.

Cepi Director General, Jori Ringman, added, “We know that climate change is the greatest challenge of our times and that we all have a responsibility to minimize our climate impact effectively, starting today. Water scarcity is an issue of growing global importance together with deep decarbonization to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

“The European paper industry has a unique role to play in the fight against climate change by offering immediate and affordable solutions. Already today, there are 4.5 million tons of single use plastics items that can be replaced by paper-based alternatives with an immediate positive impact for the climate,” Ringman concluded.

The European Union should help create new markets for bio-based products such as paper and board packaging, and ensure that there is a steady supply of sustainably sourced raw materials, like high quality paper for recycling and fresh fibre to put on the market recyclable paper-based products on the market.

Fibre-based packaging is already the most collected and recycled packaging material in Europe. And the industry wants to do even better, with the 4evergreen coalition, an alliance of over 50 companies representing the entire fibre-based packaging value chain. The alliance is working on increasing the recycling rates of fibre-based packaging to 90% by 2030.


Post time: Jan-19-2021