Arlington, Virginia -- A new report from the American Chemistry Council adds data on two polyurethane raw materials -- MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) and TDI (toluene diisocyanate) -- to its environmental profiles for the production of plastics.
Known as a lifecycle inventory (LCI), the study offers a cradle-to-resin (or "cradle-to-gate") picture of plastics production.
As well as the two diisocyanates, the study covers polyether polyols for flexible PU foam and polyether polyols for rigid PU foam. Plastics resins included are: high-, low- and linear low-density density polyethylene (HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), general-purpose polystyrene (GPPS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).
This new study, prepared by life-cycle firm Franklin Associates, a division of Eastern Research Group Inc., provides current data on total energy requirements, energy sources, atmospheric pollutants, and solid waste resulting from the production of plastic materials in North America.
This report, available on ACC's website -- www.americanchemistry.com -- updates a 2007 study that looked at the same nine resins and two polyurethane precursors.
"As more companies seek to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their products and operations, life cycle inventory studies have become increasingly critical to their decision making," said Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets for the American Chemistry Council, in an ACC announcement. "From resin manufacturers and product makers to major retailers like Wal-Mart, companies rely on life cycle data to help reduce their environmental footprint and improve performance."
The new data follows harmonisation of LCA methodologies between the US and Europe, consistent with ISO standards 14040 and 14044 for life cycle inventories.
ACC notes that, although the lifecycle figures in this report are a critical part of a full plastics product lifecycle inventory, a full evaluation must also include data on fabrication, transport, use and end-of life scenarios, such as disposal, recycling or energy recovery.
"Only a complete cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment can provide a reliable basis from which to compare the full quantification of energy use, emissions and waste of one complete product system versus another," the ACC said.