Life cycle environmental impacts of carbonated soft drinks
- 3.1k Downloads
The UK carbonated drinks sector was worth £8 billion in 2010 and is growing at an annual rate of 4.9 %. In an attempt to provide a better understanding of the environmental impacts of this sector, this paper presents, for the first time, the full life cycle impacts of carbonated soft drinks manufactured and consumed in the UK. Two functional units are considered: 1 l of packaged drink and total annual production of carbonated drinks in the UK. The latter has been used to estimate the impacts at the sectoral level. The system boundary is from ‘cradle to grave’. Different packaging used for carbonated drinks is considered: glass bottles (0.75 l), aluminium cans (0.33 l) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles (0.5 and 2 l).
Materials and methods
The study has been carried out following the ISO 14040/44 life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. Data have been sourced from a drink manufacturer as well as the CCaLC, Ecoinvent and Gabi databases. The LCA software tools CCaLC v2.0 and GaBi 4.3 have been used for LCA modelling. The environmental impacts have been estimated according to the CML 2001 method.
Results and discussion
Packaging is the main hotspot for most environmental impacts, contributing between 59 and 77 %. The ingredients account between 7 and 14 % mainly due to sugar; the manufacturing stage contributes 5–10 %, largely due to the energy for filling and packaging. Refrigeration of the drink at retailer increases global warming potential by up to 33 %. Transport contributes up to 7 % to the total impacts.
The drink packaged in 2 l PET bottles is the most sustainable option for most impacts, including the carbon footprint, while the drink in glass bottles is the worst option. However, reusing glass bottles three times would make the carbon footprint of the drink in glass bottles comparable to that in aluminium cans and 0.5 l PET bottles. If recycling of PET bottles is increased to 60 %, the glass bottle would need to be reused 20 times to make their carbon footprints comparable. The estimates at the sectoral level indicate that the carbonated drinks in the UK are responsible for over 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 eq. emissions per year. This represented 13 % of the GHG emissions from the whole food and drink sector or 0.26 % of the UK total emissions in 2010.
KeywordsCarbon footprint Carbonated soft drinks Life cycle assessment Packaging
This work has been funded by EPSRC within the CCaLC project (grant no. EP/F003501/1). This funding is gratefully acknowledged. The authors are also grateful to Professor Savvas Tassou from Brunel University for his advice related to refrigeration.
- Bohnet M, Brinker CJ, Cornils B (eds) (2003) Ullmann’s encyclopaedia of industrial chemistry. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- British Glass (2009) Recycled content. British Glass: Sheffield. www.britglass.org.uk/publications
- BSDA (2011a) The 2011 UK soft drinks report. British Soft Drinks Association: London. www.britishsoftdrinks.com/PDF/2011%20soft%20drinks%20report.pdf
- BSDA (2011b) Ingredients of soft drinks. British Soft Drinks Association: London. www.britishsoftdrinks.com/default.aspx?page=333
- BSI (2005) Refrigerated display cabinets—part 2: classification, requirements and test conditions. British Standards Institution, LondonGoogle Scholar
- CCaLC (2011) CCaLC v2.0 software and database. www.ccalc.org.uk
- Coca Cola (2010) What’s the carbon footprint of a Coca Cola. www.coca-cola.co.uk/environment/what-s-the-carbon-footprint-of-a-coca-cola.html
- Coop (2011) Environmental product declaration of Acqua Minerale. http://gryphon.environdec.com/data/files/6/8392/epd279_rev2.pdf
- DECC (2011) UK climate change sustainable development indicator: 2010 greenhouse gas emissions, provisional figures and 2009 greenhouse gas emissions, final figures by fuel type and end-user. Department of Energy and Climate Change: London. www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Statistics/climate_change/1515-statrelease-ghg-emissions-31032011.pdf
- Defra (2005) Producer responsibility obligations (packaging waste) regulations 1997 (as amended). Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/producer/packaging/documents/package-datanote.pdf
- Defra (2006) Food industry sustainability strategy. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: London. www.defra.gov.uk/publications/2011/03/28/pb11649-food-industry
- Defra (2007) Market transformation programme, BNCR: 36: direct emission of refrigerant gases. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Defra (2009) Making the most of packaging: a strategy for a low-carbon economy. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: London. www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13189-full-packaging-strategy-090624.pdf
- EAA (2008) Environmental profile report for the European aluminium industry. European Aluminium Association: Brussels. www.eaa.net/en/environment-health-safety/lca/
- EC (2006) Reference document of best available techniques in the food, drink and milk industries. European Commission: Brussels. www.ineris.fr/ippc/sites/default/files/files/fdm_bref_0806.pdf
- Ecoinvent Centre (2010) Ecoinvent v2.2 Database. Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories: Dübendorf, Switzerland. www.ecoinvent.ch/
- FDF (2008) Our five-fold environmental ambition. Food and Drink Federation: London. www.fdf.org.uk/environment_progress_report.aspx
- Franklin Associates (2009) Life cycle inventory of three single-serving soft drink containers. Franklin Associates, A Division of ERG: Praire Village. http://www.petresin.org/pdf/FranklinLCISodaContainers2009.pdf
- Guinée JB, Gorrèe M, Heijungs R, Huppes G, Kleijn R, van Oers L, Wegener Sleeswijk A, Suh S, Udo de Haes HA, de Bruijn H, van Duin R, Huijbregts MAJ (2001) Life cycle assessment, an operational guide to the ISO standards. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
- Gujba H, Azapagic A (2010) Carbon footprint of liquid beverage packaging in the UK. The University of Manchester, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
- ILCD (2010) International life cycle database. European Commission Joint Research Centre. lca.jrc.ec.europa.eu/lcainfohub/datasetArea.vm
- PE International (2010) Gabi 4.3 LCA software. Leinfelden-Echterdingen. www.gabi-software.com/uk-ireland/index/
- IPCC/TEAP (2005) Special report: safeguarding the ozone layer and the global climate system. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Geneva. www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/sroc/sroc_full.pdf
- Key Note (2003) Packaging (food & drink) industry 2003. www.keynote.co.uk/market-intelligence/view/product
- Key Note (2011) Market report 2011: soft drinks: carbonated and concentrated. S. Walker, K. Hughes, L. Bishop, eds. Key Note Ltd: Richmond upon Thames. www.keynote.co.uk/market-intelligence/view/product/10396/soft-drinks--carbonated-%26-concentrated?medium=download
- Tassou SA, Hadawey A, Marriott D (2008) Greenhouse gas impacts of food retailing. report for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: London. randd.defra.gov.uk/Document.aspx?Document=FO0405_8189_FRP.pdf
- Tesco (2011) www.tesco.com/groceries
- US EPA (2011) Ozone layer protection: regulatory programs—leak repair. US Environmental Protection Agency: Washington DC. www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/leak.html
- van Baxter D (2002) Advances in supermarket refrigeration systems. 7th Int. Energy Agency Conference on Heat Pumping Technologies. May 19–22, 2002 Beijing, ChinaGoogle Scholar
- Water UK (2009) Sustainability indicators 2008/2009. Water UK: London. www.water.org.uk/home/news/press-releases/sustainability-indicators-2008-09/sustainability-2009.pdf