Tellus Packaging Study
- Prepared by:
- Tellus Institute
- Prepared for:
- The Council of State Governments,
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy
|Environmental impact analysis:
|Environmental cost listing/database:
|Alternative product/process comparison:
Assessment of the impacts of production and disposal of packaging and public policy measures to alter its mix.
- Development/publication date and updates:
- May 1992. No updates
- Public availability:
- Purpose and current use:
- Analysis of all major packaging materials. Tellus uses the system for their LCA and other environmental policy work. Tellus has sold a number of copies of the study to industry, universities, non-profits, and government organizations be used for various purposes, including support for policy decisions and frameworks.
- Cost information:
- The complete study is available at a price of $295 for non-profit organizations, and $495 for for-profit organizations. The executive summary is available for $35 and $55 for non-profit and for-profit organizations, respectively.
- Contents and system requirements:
- Detailed analysis of all major packaging materials, including an evaluation of the relative importance of different environmental impacts and pollution control costs. Case studies of packages.
Summary of methodology
The Tellus approach uses the marginal cost of pollution control for regulated and non-regulated pollutants to evaluate the environmental cost of production associated with twenty packaging materials, including several comparisons of virgin and recycled streams.
Tellus works within the SETAC/EPA LCA framework-consisting of a life-cycle inventory, impact assessment, and improvement assessment. The Tellus inventory report on packaging material production processes coincides with the inventory component of life-cycle analysis. Ranking health effects and pricing them are part of the life-cycle impact assessment.
Life-cycle stages covered
|Raw material acquisition
The Tellus study evaluates environmental impacts/costs for a portion of the life cycle and includes information on
- raw materials extraction/processing
- packaging material production and
- disposal of packaging material.
The Tellus study omitted the following life-cycle stages:
- package forming
- shipping materials (e.g., pallets, wrappings)
Type of costs considered
The costs considered are environmental costs of production, conventional (monetary) costs of disposal, and environmental costs of disposal.
Environmental costs of production
- Uses the marginal cost of pollution control (MCPC) as a proxy for estimating cost
- MCPC values pollutants at the price society is willing to pay for pollution controls
- Pollutant "prices" for regulated pollutants established using their MCPCs, and pollutant prices for non-regulated pollutants established using the MCPC of lead as a benchmark
- Total costs for each packaging material determined by multiplying each pollutant's price by the amount of each pollutant released to the environment per ton of material produced
Conventional costs of disposal
- Measurement of the marginal cost of handling various packaging materials.
- Includes costs of landfilling, incineration, and recycling
- Uses New Jersey's solid waste system as baseline model
Environmental costs of disposal
- Costs were determined using the pollutant price, as in estimating production costs, multiplied by the amount of pollutant released per disposal method:
- -For landfills, the leachate pollutants per ton of landfilled waste were estimated and these were added to the waste stream components based on the quantities and chemical composition of wastes.
- -For incinerators, the air pollutants and ash produced by burning a ton of waste were estimated and these were added to the waste stream components based on the quantities and chemical composition of wastes.
- -For recycling, the air pollutants associated with recycling a ton of recycled waste were estimated and these were added to the waste stream components based on the quantities of waste. One published study was used that measured ambient air pollution levels at a fairly small recycling facility. The reason why only one data set was used was the paucity of published data on recycling facility emissions.
- -For landfilling, incineration and recycling, the air pollutants associated with collecting a ton of waste were estimated, and these were added to the waste stream components based on the quantities and volumes of wastes.
Method of cost estimation
Full cost of packaging production and disposal =
- Environmental costs (pollutant prices) of packaging production +
- Conventional (monetary) costs of the solid waste system +
- Environmental costs (pollutant prices) of the solid waste system
Generation of financial indicators
|Net present value (NPV)
|Internal rate of return (IRR)
|Benefits cost ratio
Most applicable aspects of the Tellus study are the approaches used to place monetary values on environmental impacts. Although only production and disposal stages are considered by Tellus, the use of social WTP (as given by the MCPC) as a proxy for pollutant prices may be built upon, refined, and/or extended to all life-cycle stages.
The conventional costs of packaging production are not taken into account. All the life-cycle stages are not included in the analysis.
- Basis for evaluation:
- The information provided here is based on a profile of the tool presented in Weitz et al. (1994). Subsequent reviews were done by incorporating updated product information through telephone communication with Tellus in May 1995.
- Contact information:
- Tellus Institute
- 11 Arlington Street
- Boston, MA 02116
- Karen Shapiro
- Brian Zuckerman
- 617-266-8303 (FAX)
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