Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Environmental performance of alternative packaging options for a given product application increasingly comes into awareness, both at the end consumer level as well as in the field of business-to-business communication. The purpose of the study presented here is to examine the environmental performance of a multilayer pouch for packing of enteral nutrition products. To achieve this, a life cycle assessment has been conducted. As an attributional full cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment it compares environmental impacts of a comparable lighter multilayer pouch vs. two different comparable heavier high-density polyethylene bottles (covering the weight range of high-density polyethylene bottles on global markets for enteral nutrition products) in two different sizes (500 mL and 1000 mL). All life cycle steps are taken into account: from the extraction and production of packaging raw materials over converting and filling processes to all transports as well as recycling and/or final waste disposal (landfill and/or incineration) of the packaging materials after their use. The functional unit of this study is the packaging required to deliver 1000 liters enteral nutrition product to the customer at the hospital. The study aims to cover various markets: Europe, Latin America and Australia. To depict the different markets, a cluster approach was chosen. The clusters are based on two criteria: geography of target markets, which determines the distribution (truck and/or ship) and transportation distances; as well as the end-of-life final waste treatment routes – either landfill or incineration. An essential difference between the two product types (multilayer pouch and high-density polyethylene bottle) is the mechanical recycling option for the high-density polyethylene bottle, which is currently not applicable for the multilayer pouch at a commercialized level. The results of the study show that the multilayer pouch packaging system is favorable from an environmental point of view versus alternative high-density polyethylene bottle systems in the field of enteral nutrition products. The ecologic advantage of the multilayer pouch system is based on the reduced initial material use compared to high-density polyethylene bottles requiring a higher polymer amount in production. This applies to both sizes and all geographic clusters taking into account the mechanical recyclability of the high-density polyethylene bottles.