Combined application of LCA and eco-design for the sustainable production of wood boxes for wine bottles storage
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The main objective of this study is to combine the environmental evaluation of a basic wood box used to store wine bottles by means of the integration of two environmental methodologies: a quantitative methodology known as life cycle assessment (LCA) and a qualitative methodology which is useful in integrating environmental aspects into design, that is, the design for the environment (DfE). The LCA study covers the life cycle of wood box production from a cradle-to-gate perspective. A wood processing company located in Galicia (NW, Spain) was analysed in detail, dividing the process chain into five stages: cogeneration unit, material assembling, painting, packaging and distribution to clients.
Abiotic depletion (AD), acidification, eutrophication, global warming, ozone layer depletion (OD), photochemical oxidant formation (PO), human toxicity (HT) and toxicological impact categories (HT, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity) were the impact categories analysed in the LCA study. According to the environmental results, the assembling stage contributed more than 57% to all impact categories, followed by the cogeneration unit and packaging. Contributions from packaging are mainly due to transoceanic transport activities related to the rope distribution and wood-based materials production. In addition, it is interesting to remark that all energy requirements were produced by on-site cogeneration boilers using a non-renewable fossil fuel. Several processes were identified as hot spots in this study: medium density fibreboards (MDF) production (with large contribution to ecotoxicity categories), energy production (with contributions to AD, GW and OD) and finally, the transportation of jute fibres (the main contributor to all the impact categories). Concerning the results from the DfE, the proposed eco-design strategies were evaluated from a technological, economic and social point of view by an interdisciplinary team of researchers and enterprise’s workers. The results show that the strategies with more viability of improvement were: reduction of resources used, multifunctional design, substitution of MDF by plywood, substitution of jute fibres, alternatives to the ink, optimization of energy requirement, transport alternatives for the final product and inputs distribution and definition of a protocol for disassembling the product.
The results obtained in this work allow forecasting the importance of the chosen raw materials as well as their origin for the environmental burdens associated with the wood-based box manufacture. Future work will focus on the manufacturing of a prototype eco-designed wood-based box.
KeywordsDesign for environment Eco-design Environmental performance Wine sector Life cycle assessment (LCA) Wood box Wood sector
This work has been partially financed by the Xunta de Galicia (Project Reference PGIDIT08MDS005CT). Dr. S. González-García would like to express her gratitude to the Spanish Ministry of Education for financial support (Grant reference AP2005-2374).
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