13 February 2012

LCA validates SMART Pack's green credentials

A comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment conducted at RMIT University is behind the launch this month of Nestlé Oceania's new NESCAFÉ Gold SMART Pack - an alternative coffee packaging that offers consumers a simple way to reduce their impact on the environment.

Nescafe smart pack

The LCA conducted at RMIT's Centre for Design validated the environmental claims on the new NESCAFÉ Gold SMART Pack.

Nescafe smart pack information

Every pack details RMIT's involvement in evaluating the new packaging's green credentials.

The LCA conducted at RMIT's Centre for Design evaluated and compared the potential environmental impact of two packaging formats - the 100g NESCAFÉ Gold coffee glass jar (and polymer lid) and a 90g SMART Pack laminate pouch.

The assessment found the SMART Pack used 73 per cent less non-renewable energy, 66 per cent less water and emitted 75 per cent less CO2 equivalents over its entire life cycle than the glass jar (for a delivered quantity of 100g of coffee).

Simon Lockrey, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Design, said the LCA took in the environmental impact of each stage of the packaging materials, from raw material extraction and processing through to the end of its useful life.

"Although the SMART Pack is made of material that isn't currently recycled, it has a number of environmental benefits," Mr Lockrey said.

"The SMART Pack is light, weighing just 9.5 grams. Making, using and disposing of the pack takes far less water and energy, and the materials, manufacturing and transport-related greenhouse gas emissions are also dramatically reduced.

"Our study also examined 13 alternative variations to our baseline scenario to test for data quality and robustness - from changes in the amount of water used in glass manufacturing to the thickness of the laminate pouch - and we found the SMART Pack was consistently a good environmental choice."

The baseline of the LCA measured the impact of delivering 100g of coffee to an Australian consumer in both forms of packaging. The study conformed to the international standard ISO14044:2006, and was panel peer reviewed by experts in LCA, packaging, retail and environmental advocacy.

An international leader in eco-design and Australia's leading hub of expertise in Life Cycle Assessment, the Centre for Design at RMIT collaborates with industry to provide comprehensive sustainability analysis, strategy and design advice.

The centre is dedicated to all aspects of achieving environmental sustainability outcomes and undertakes fundamental research to inform policy and practice. Research projects range from packaging and consumer products to designing better buildings, suburbs and cities.

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