Casarejos, F., Bastos, C., Rufin, C. & Frota, M. (2018) Rethinking packaging production and consumption vis-à-vis circular economy: a case study of compostable cassava starch-based material.Journal of Cleaner Production, 201, 1019-1028. DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.08.114 (IF2017 5,651; Q1 Green & Sustainable Science & Technology)
In the dominant industrial economy, packaging waste represents a significant share of urban solid waste generation (∼20.0% by volume in Europe and United States), with wide-ranging negative impacts on interconnected human-Earth systems. The transition from the dominant linear economy to a model grounded in circularity by intention and design can build a new essential foundation for the market economy and packaging utilization. This work examines packaging production and consumption vis-à-vis circular economy. In pursuing this goal, it comprises (i) a life cycle inventory analysis of rigid packaging products, discussing yield of raw materials and products, water and energy use, and GHG emissions; (ii) a case study of cassava starch-based material, and (iii) a comparative analysis between petroleum-based and cassava starch-based packaging. The results clearly indicate that compostable packaging of cassava starch has far better societal and environmental outcomes than petroleum-based packaging. The transition from the linear (take-make-use-dispose) to the circular (grow-make-use-restore) pattern creates new opportunities for innovation beyond technology, as it inevitably redefines the significance of waste, products, services, markets, natural capital, and growth. Addressing the GHG emissions from the petroleum-based packaging industry, the societal adoption of bio-based packaging of cassava starch is an effective and promising Climate Change mitigation strategy.