(661c) Combined Life Cycle Analysis and Environmental Risk Assessment As a Tool to Evaluate the Circular Economy of Plastics
approaches to plastics manufacture and utilisation.
Overcoming the negative environmental impacts of our current use of plastics requires both a step change in thinking and innovative and transformative actions. To ensure we are not inadvertently causing more problems by solving one, sustainability analysis is essential. Here we combine the two analytical approaches which dominate environmental policy and decision-making to create a tool suitable for analysing the circular economy of plastics: environmental risk assessment (ERA) and life cycle assessment (LCA). Environmental risk assessment (ERA) couples information on the fate and behaviour of chemicals in the environment with information on the effects of chemical exposure on ecological systems to predict the probability that adverse environmental effects will occur (i.e. risk). Life cycle assessment (LCA) provides an integrative assessment of a product and process by considering the environmental and health effects from the extraction of raw materials to their recycling or disposal (âcradle to cradle/graveâ). The framework of the new analysis tool will be discussed, along with an example of its use to analyse the use of plastics, and alternatives, in the supply chain of milk from farm to cafÃ©.