BillerudKorsnäs, a Swedish paper and pulp manufacturer, has unveiled a new tool that evaluates the environmental impact of different packaging solutions.

Life cycle assessment is a technique used to assess the environmental impact associated with all the stages of a product's life, from the extraction of raw materials through to processing, manufacturing, transportation, and end-of-life treatment. According to BillerudKorsnäs, performing one single life cycle assessment can traditionally take months of work due to the large amount of data that needs to be collected from the value chain.

The recently introduced digital tool apparently contains an extensive database on different packaging materials, including data from the company’s own production. By selecting a number of parameters related to the packaging, such as material, size, production location, transport, and disposal method, the tool will reportedly show the total life cycle impact for carbon dioxide emissions and water consumption.

At BillerudKorsnäs, the tool is mainly used to improve supply chain efficiency and environmental performance for customers with production in Asia. Customers can then use the information in their environmental communication and sustainability reporting.

“There is a knowledge gap on the market,” says Johan Tegell, Business Development Director at BillerudKorsnäs. “Companies don’t realise how much they can reduce their carbon and freshwater footprint from packaging. It’s about optimising the packaging to the supply chain and choosing suitable raw materials.

“Normally just small adjustments are needed to get great environmental savings. This was the reason why we introduced a life cycle assessment tool, to provide our customers with environmental insights about their packaging. Most customers are surprised when they see the results and realise the potential savings.”

The apparel company LPP, which has over 1,700 stores across the world, was one of the pioneers of the life cycle assessment tool, together with BillerudKorsnäs.

Monika Kotwicka, manager purchasing processes at LPP, comments: “The cooperation with BillerudKorsnäs and the use of the life cycle assessment tool enabled LPP not only to understand but to practically reduce the emission of CO2. The implementation of BillerudKorsnäs’ packaging solutions supported LPP’s internal CO2 goals.”