Original Paper

Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 154-167

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Life Cycle Assessment of Polysaccharide Materials: A Review

  • Li ShenAffiliated withDepartment of Science, Technology and Society, Faculty of Chemistry, Utrecht University Email author 
  • , Martin K. PatelAffiliated withDepartment of Science, Technology and Society, Faculty of Chemistry, Utrecht University


Apart from conventional uses of polysaccharide materials, such as food, clothing, paper packaging and construction, new polysaccharide products and materials have been developed. This paper reviews life cycle assessment (LCA) studies in order to gain insight of the environmental profiles of polysaccharide products (e.g. viscose or natural fibre polymer composites) in comparison with their conventional counterparts (e.g. cotton or petrochemical polymers). The application areas covered are textiles, engineering materials and packing. It is found that for each stage of the life cycle (production, use phase and waste management) polysaccharide-based end products show better environmental profiles than their conventional counterparts in terms of non-renewable energy use (NREU) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Cotton is an exception, with high environmental impacts that are related to the use of fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and high water consumption. The available literature for man-made cellulose fibres shows that they allow to reduce NREU and GHG emissions in the fibre production phase. No study has been found for the fabric production and the use phase of man-made cellulose textiles.


LCA Polysaccharide Review Environment Energy