The growing interest in environmental issues is creating a new market for products and services that are genuinely eco-compatible. This new economic parameter is the adoption of a series of instruments that measure, control and check the environmental performance.

Our raw material supplier for Mater-Bi®, Novamont, has always made an important contribution to the promotion of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and more recently, of the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). These factors are considered strategic for verifying the true environmental benefit of using biodegradable plastic polymers.

LCA – Life Cycle Analysis

Life cycle analysis is a method for analysing manufacturing processes, products and services, which favours studying systems from a global viewpoint. The only way to study production systems completely is to step by step examine their performance i.e. the route covered by the raw materials through all of the transformation and transportation processes until the final treatment. This approach is termed “from cradle to grave”.

The role of LCA is essential in identifying the manufacturing processes that have the greatest environmental impact and in indicating the options for improvement in order to maximise the positive effects and reduce the negative effects on the environment to a minimum.

EPD – Environmental Product Declaration

The EPD is an important voluntary instrument for qualifying companies that intend to take an active role in managing the environment factor. The EPD enables communicating the environmental contents of a product, both objectively and transparently.

The presence of recognised rules of a qualified and authoritative managing body and of a reliable validation system is essential elements of guaranteeing and protecting EPD use. In recent years the concept of Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) has become essential in evaluating the environmental impact of a product or service. LCT is fundamental as a cultural approach because it involves considering the entire product chain and identifying which improvements and innovations can be made to it. Evaluating the supply of raw materials, their production, use and end of life in the same context has enormous potential for many products, including plastics, since it makes it possible to manufacture products that are closely integrated both with the production system in the region and with consumption uses and habits, providing a broad scope for real improvements. The supply of raw materials close to the production site or an end-of-life that maximises collection and recovery of waste are simple but concrete and quantifiable elements of continuous improvement within the scope of sustainability.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the main tool for implementing ‘Life Cycle Thinking’. It is an objective method for evaluating and quantifying the energy and environmental consequences and potential impacts associated with a product/process/activity throughout its entire life cycle, from the acquisition of raw materials until its end of life (“from cradle to grave”). In this technique, all phases of a production process are considered related and interdependent, making it possible to evaluate the cumulative environmental impacts. At an international level, LCA is governed by the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards.

Novamont has used the LCA methodology since 1998 and was among the first companies in Italy to implement it. Each phase of the life cycle of the different Mater-Bi® grades is studied, evaluated and, if possible, improved upon by using eco-design criteria, improving the efficiency of facilities and production processes and implementing a genuine green procurement process for raw materials.