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8th IEEE International Conference Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology

Communication and Control, Environment and Management (HNICEM)


9-12 December 2015 Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines

A Comparative Life Cycle Analysis of Plastic and


Paper Packaging Bags in the Philippines
*
Jose Bienvenido Manuel M. Biona Aristotle T. Ubando
Mechanical Engineering Department, Center for Engineering Mechanical Engineering Department, Center for Engineering
and Sustainable Development Research (CESDR), and Sustainable Development Research (CESDR),
De La Salle University, 2401 Taft Avenue, 0922 Manila, De La Salle University, 2401 Taft Avenue, 0922 Manila,
Philippines Philippines
jose.bienvenido.biona@dlsu.edu.ph aristotle.ubando@dlsu.edu.ph

Jeremias A. Gonzaga Hazel Claire Tan


Mechanical Engineering Department, Center for Engineering Center for Engineering and Sustainable Development
and Sustainable Development Research (CESDR), Research (CESDR), De La Salle University, 2401 Taft
De La Salle University, 2401 Taft Avenue, 0922 Manila, Avenue, 0922 Manila, Philippines
Philippines tanhaste@gmail.com
jeremias.gonzaga@dlsu.edu.ph

Abstract—Various cities in the Philippines have started to 2009 in Payatas, Quezon City, Philippines, it was found that
prohibit the use of plastic bags and packaging materials in favor the approximate generation of residuals in that major city in
of paper products for waste disposal and management reasons. Metro Manila was about 248 tons per day. Of these residuals,
This study evaluated the soundness of these initiatives based on 62% were plastic sando bags [1]. This is just one of the many
life-cycle analysis (LCA) framework. While a number of studies
major cities in Metro Manila and estimating the total
have looked at similar issues in other countries, results may not
be entirely valid in the Philippines due to different variations in consumption of the whole country, it can be said that a good
energy and material supply chain and waste disposal practices amount of plastics are being disposed of in landfills every day.
and system. Considering the usual products being purchased by a In 2011, the Senate Bill No. 2759 [2] on the Total Plastic Bag
Filipino family and the amount, 12 liter sando bags and 14 liter Ban Act was passed into law, prohibiting the sale, distribution,
paper bag capacity were used as the functional units for the and use of plastic bags in groceries, restaurants, and other
research. Comparison of the impact assessment was done by establishments. Compared to plastics, paper products are more
looking into the cradle-to-grave processes of the two bag environmentally friendly as they are made of natural materials
materials. The study covered disposal to land, air and water which are also easily degraded or recycled. However,
effluents and included the global warming, acidification, ozone
considering the usage now that paper packaging is replacing
depletion and human toxicity impact areas. A modified EDIP was
used for the life-cycle inventory and results show that out of the plastic packaging, it is definite that there is some form of
four impact factors, three favored the use of plastic bags. Future impact on the environment for this usage. In order to fully
studies may be done on other impact factors as well as on other understand these impacts, life cycle assessment (LCA) was
bag materials. This study was commissioned by the Department conducted. LCA is an internationally standardized method in
of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to aid policy assessing the environmental effects of processing of products
development in waste management in the country. from cradle to grave [3]. What makes this method ideal is that
it provides a systems approach to examining the environmental
Keywords — Life Cycle Assessment, Philippines, Paper bag, Plastic
impacts of certain materials and information obtained allows
bag, Waste Management for a wider perspective in viewing the overall environmental
issues involved [4]. Many studies have already been done
I. INTRODUCTION
using the LCA method in other countries to guide the
Plastics and polystyrene foams are widely used as government in policy making [5]. Previous LCA study was
packaging in the Philippines. Due to their imperviousness to conducted for the evaluation of supermarket carrier bags in the
water, plastics and polystyrene foams have become the United Kingdom [6]. However, the results are not valid for the
preferred materials for use in different establishments like Philippine setting as the raw material and energy sources vary
groceries and restaurants. Though easy to manufacture and are from one country to another. In this study, the impact of
quite versatile, their applications after disposal pose a problem different packaging materials in the Philippines was
as decomposition of such materials takes centuries. In a waste determined using LCA. Analysis took into account the energy
analysis characterization survey (WACS) conducted on March

978-1-4673-7728-7/15/$31.00 ©2015 IEEE


8th IEEE International Conference Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology
Communication and Control, Environment and Management (HNICEM)
9-12 December 2015 Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines

and material inputs compiled from the different stages of Fuel


production and disposal. Data obtained was used to determine Raw Material
Emissions
Extraction
the life cycle impact assessment of the different packaging Electricity
products using the Environmental Design of Industrial Crude Oil Natural Gas
Products (EDIP) method. A modified impact factor was used to
Fuel
include the different conditions with which the disposed Raw Material
Emissions
materials are exposed to. Limitations to this study include the Preparation
use of only two types of packaging materials, specifically, Electricity
Refined Processed
plastic sando bags, and paper. In addition, discharge standards Petroleum Natural Gas
for certain chemicals related to production are based on data Fuel
obtained from other countries due to unavailability of local Monomer Emissions
discharge standards. Results obtained in the study would Production
Electricity
provide a better perspective on the actual impacts of each
Ethylene
packaging material which may guide the legislative in the
Fuel
waste management policy development in the country. Polymer
Emissions
Production
II. LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY Electricity

The functional units of this particular study were 12 liter Polyethylene

sando bag and 14 liter paper bag capacity. These functional Fuel
Plastic Bag
units used in this particular study were based on the amount of Production
Emissions
material to carry a similar set of goods while the composition Electricity
were considered based on the commonly purchased goods of a Plastic Bag
Distribution
Filipino family. In order to identify clearly the areas that are
Fuel
covered in plastic and paper packaging material LCA, a system
Utilization Emissions
boundary was specifically established. The different processes
from cradle-to-grave for plastic packaging material is shown in Electricity
Waste
Fig. 1 while for paper packaging material is shown in Fig. 2. Transportation
Each of the process found in Figs. 1 and 2 accounts for the Fuel
Landfill
Thrown in wastewater
consumption of fuel and electric, and the emissions generated Electricity Disposal Burn at site
for both paper and plastic bags. The carrier bag raw material
Composted at source
supply shares for local and imported materials are shown in Recycled Plastic
Emissions
Table 1 for plastic bag and Table 2 for paper bag. In this case
study, recycling was not considered to isolate the impact of Fig. 1 Plastic bag cradle-to-grave process flow.
virgin production for both plastic and paper bags. A three-
leveled material and energy source framework was adapted as The country source of raw materials and energy were
shown in Fig. 3 to account the fuel and electricity consumed categorized into its location based on the seven regions – South
together with the emissions generated during the pre-bag East Asia and the Pacific, East Asia, South and Central Asia,
production processes for both plastic and paper. The three Europe, North America, Latin America and Caribbean, and
levels of material and energy sources represent the regions Middle East and North Africa. The prorated distances from
where the raw materials originated based from MIT supply level 3 to level 2 countries for each raw materials and energy
chain mapping website [7]. Level 1 represents the Philippines were calculated from these equations:
where the raw materials were shipped for the bag production.
Level 2 represents the countries where the raw materials were yT = Σy (1)
manufactured such as: polyethylene for plastic bag and pulp for y / yT = n (2)
paper bag. Level 3 represents the raw material extraction and D⋅n = P (3)
preparation for plastic bag, and farming and wood production PT = ΣP (4)
for paper bag. Since each level came from a different country,
the fuel consumed to transport the raw materials were where y is the amount of shipped raw materials/energy fuel, yT
calculated based on the shipping distance of each of the is the total shipped raw materials/energy fuel, n is the
countries involved from Sea-Distances.Org [8]. For shipment normalized shipped amount for a given raw materials/energy
of raw materials through land and pipe transmission, the fuel, D is the shipping distance from the source country to the
distances were acquired from Google Maps [9]. receiving country, and P is the prorated distance of a given raw
materials/energy fuel at a combination of source and receiving
country, PT is the total prorated distance for a given region..

978-1-4673-7728-7/15/$31.00 ©2015 IEEE


8th IEEE International Conference Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology
Communication and Control, Environment and Management (HNICEM)
9-12 December 2015 Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines

Fuel
Farming Emissions
Electricity

Seed plantation

Fuel
Wood
Emissions
Production
Electricity
Wood

Fuel
Pulp Emissions Level 1
Production
Electricity Level 2 Regions
Pulp Sources of materials & energy
Fuel
Paper
Emissions
Production Level 3 Regions
Electricity Sources of materials & energy
Paper Sheet
Fig. 3: Framework of Philippine raw material and energy sources.
Paper Bag
Production
The objective of this study is to determine the life-cycle
Paper Bag environmental impact of plastic bag and paper bag using LCA
Distribution methodology. Due to limited information on the actual life-
Fuel
cycle inventory (LCI) of the both plastic and paper bags in the
Utilization Emissions Philippines, the LCI used in this study was based from Franklin
Electricity Associates [10]. This information was then used to determine
Waste the LCA of plastic bag and paper bag using Environmental
Transportation
Landfill Design of Industrial Products (EDIP) 97 [11, 12]. A modified
Fuel
Thrown in wastewater EDIP 97 was utilized in this study which covers emission
Electricity Disposal Burn at site related impacts and resource consumptions such as global
Composted at source warming potential, acidification, ozone depletion, human
Recycled Paper
Emissions toxicity, and photochemical ozone creation. The global
Fig. 2 Paper bag cradle-to-grave process flow. warming potential represents the equivalent carbon dioxide
(CO2) emissions from the combustion of fossil-based fuel of
Table 1. Plastic bag raw material supply share. the whole production chain of the bags. The CO2 emissions are
Plastic Bags Raw Materials
Local Imported directly related to climate change impact such as global
Supply Share warming potential (GWP) [13]. The acidification impact
Refined Petroleum 100% 0% category represents the equivalent sulfur dioxide (SO2)
Processed Natural Gas 100% 0%
emissions from the combustion of fossil-based fuel of the
whole production chain of the bags. Acidification signifies an
Ethylene 44% 56% increase in hydrogen ions (H+) delivered to a specific medium
Polyethylene Resins 29% 71% which causes change in its pH causing damage to the organic
Recycled Resins/Bags 100% 0%
and inorganic material [13]. The ozone depletion potential
represents the release of substances having the same effect as
Plastic Bag 100% 0% chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs). CFC-11 was chosen in EDIP 97 as
a representative substance for other similar substances due to
Table 2. Paper bag raw material supply share. its large contribution to ozone depletion [13]. Human toxicity
Paper Bag Raw Materials
Local Imported signifies the kg 1,4 dichlorobenzene (DCB) equivalent which
Supply Share are heavy metals emitted during the production of bags. The
Recycled Pulp 50% 50% assessment of human toxicity is the measure of tolerable daily
Virgin Pulp intake of such substances [14]. Lastly, photochemical ozone
0% 100%
creation (POC) corresponds to the smog generated due to the
Paper Sheet 10% 90% emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other volatile organic
Paper Bag 90% 10% compounds (VOCs). POC is expressed in terms of kg ethene
(C2H4) equivalent [15]. To compare the impact assessment of
plastic and paper bags, the cradle-to-grave processes of the two

978-1-4673-7728-7/15/$31.00 ©2015 IEEE


8th IEEE International Conference Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology
Communication and Control, Environment and Management (HNICEM)
9-12 December 2015 Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines

bag materials were simplified to five phases: 1) raw material photochemical ozone creation for all of the stages of paper bag
extraction, 2) raw material preparation, 3) bag production, 4) production is relatively high to plastic bag.
utilization, and 5) disposal. For plastic bag, the raw material
preparation phase consists of the raw material preparation,
Global Warming Potential
monomer production, and polymer production as indicated in (kg CO2 eq./kg)
Fig. 1. For paper, the raw material extraction phase consists of 2.50E+01
farming and wood production while the raw material
preparation phase consists of the pulp and paper production as 2.00E+01
shown in Fig. 2. The transportation of the paper and plastic
1.50E+01
bags from the production sites to the distribution market were
considered. The disposal method and its percentage considered 1.00E+01
in the study are shown in Table 3 [16]. Normalization of
5.00E+00
impact category and its weighing factor were not included in
this study. 0.00E+00
Plastic Paper
Table 3. Disposal method considered.
Raw Material Extraction Raw Material Preparation
Disposal Method Plastic Bag Paper Bag Production Utilization
Disposal
Disposed to Landfill/Dumpsite 83% 85%
Fig. 3. Global warming potential comparative result.
Buried in Disposal Pit 4% 3%
Thrown in Waterways 5% 5%
Acidification
Burned 8% 7% (kg SO2 eq./kg )
7.00E-02

6.00E-02

III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS 5.00E-02

The results of the comparative analysis between plastic and 4.00E-02

paper bags are shown in Figs. 3 to 6. The lower the value of the 3.00E-02
impact factors the lower the impact to the environment, which 2.00E-02
is the preferred result. In Figs. 3 and 4, the global warming 1.00E-02
potential and acidification clearly illustrates that plastic bag 0.00E+00
sounds more environmentally friendly compared to paper bag. Plastic Paper
Since paper bag requires fertilizer during the farming and
Raw Material Extraction Raw Material Preparation
plantation stage of trees, it has higher GWP. In addition, the Production Utilization
GWP of the raw material preparation and the production phase Disposal
of paper bag are much higher compared to the plastic bag by Fig. 4. Acidification comparative result.
2.48 times. For acidification, the presence of SO2 equivalent
emissions are seen in the raw material extraction for paper bag Ozone Depletion (20 yrs.)
compared to plastic bag. In addition, higher acidification (kg CFC–11/kg)
effects were seen for both raw material preparation and 1.60E-12
production phases for paper bags compared to plastic bags. The 1.40E-12
acidification impact of plastic bag is 2.49 times higher 1.20E-12
compared to paper bag. However, an analysis for a 20 year 1.00E-12
effect revealed that paper bag has no ozone depletion impact 8.00E-13
compared to plastic bag. Even though the ozone depletion 6.00E-13
impact of plastic are relatively lower compared to other impact
4.00E-13
factors having a magnitude of 10-12, paper bag is preferred in
2.00E-13
this impact factor with zero magnitude. A 20 year effect on
0.00E+00
human toxicity revealed that paper has greater impact Plastic Paper
compared to plastic bag especially by about 2.46 times. Just Raw Material Extraction Raw Material Preparation Production
like in GWP and acidification impact category, human toxicity Utilization Disposal
is relatively present in the raw material extraction phase for Fig. 5. Ozone depletion comparative result.
paper bag while minimal effects were seen in for plastic bag.
Lastly for photochemical ozone creation, paper bag has adverse
environmental impact compared to plastic bag by 2.48 times.
Similar to GWP, acidification, and human toxicity, the

978-1-4673-7728-7/15/$31.00 ©2015 IEEE


8th IEEE International Conference Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology
Communication and Control, Environment and Management (HNICEM)
9-12 December 2015 Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines

Human Toxicity (20 yrs.)


prioritization weights of impact factors, and uncertainty
(kg 1.4- DCB eq./kg) analysis shall also be included in future studies.
2.50E+01
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
2.00E+01 The authors would like to acknowledge the DOST-IDTI
and Department of Environment and Natural Resources
1.50E+01
(DENR) for funding this research.
1.00E+01
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978-1-4673-7728-7/15/$31.00 ©2015 IEEE


8th IEEE International Conference Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology
Communication and Control, Environment and Management (HNICEM)
9-12 December 2015 Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines

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