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Are we doing enough Life Cycle Analysis before choosing to Recycle

The Waster has been reading about a scheme which has been introduced in the UK for plastic lined cardboard containers.

Apparently anyone who wants to recycle these can contact the manufacturer who will send a special cardboard package to the member of the public by post. Once the recipient has cleaned, washed, dried and then squashed enough of these containers to fill the carton, then that person posts the package back to the works. Once at the works suitable plastic and paper separation takes place before recycling.

I have no doubt that this is an interim scheme until this industry sector develops its own system of collection points to accept their waste back. But surely there could be no Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) which would justify this level of energy use to return such lightweigh materials by post in this manner?


LIFE CYCLE Assessment (LCA) is an environmental management technique used to improve understanding and compare the impacts of products or services ‘from cradle to grave’.

LCA for waste management is a specific application of LCA which evaluates the environmental consequences of waste management systems.

It considers both the direct impact on the environment of the operations of waste management facilities, for example stack emissions from an incinerator, and also the (indirect) value of recovering materials and energy e.g. through heat recovery and electricity production.

This means environmental improvements can be made to waste management systems without the risk that the changes will cause greater impacts in other environmental media, at another time, or at another stage in the life cycle.

Life cycle analysis

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