Article Title

Methodology for the selection of a cushion material according to economic and environmental variables using a comparative analysis


The objective of this research is to develop an optimization methodology based on a comparative analysis for cushion design that is capable of addressing in efficient manner specified environmental, protective and cost requirements. Nowadays, individual models for cost, environmental and protective requirements of a product or package are studied separately. For example, a model based on environmental performance indicators which may support decision making in the case of supply chain in the presence of environmental considerations, or an environmental assessment method for cleaner production technologies based on material and energy flows and uses a set of profile indices including raw material, energy, waste, product, and packaging profiles. Other indicators of sustainable production were developed to promoting business sustainability (indicators of sustainable production). Only the relationship between Life Cycle Cost analysis (LCC) and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) could be found, in the alternative product design decision scenarios. These three aspects depend on the package design, but there are not specific methodologies to optimize package as an only function of these.

The technical (cushion properties) and environmental behaviour of the packaging materials are studied in this paper, using different tools, like cushion curves (specific for each material), LCA (Life Cycle Assessment: software SimaPro 7.0.2. PRE-Consultants) and optimization loads space software (Multipack – Multimix). In order to study the economic aspects associated to a cushion protection, a cost–based model was developed.

Finally, an optimization methodology, using a comparative analysis to select the optimum cushion protection for a product, was developed too.

The methodology developed in this paper, was checked, using a particular case design study; cushion protection for a TV set of 42-inch. Different design alternatives of cushion package are developed depending on the cushion properties of the packaging materials considered; expanded polystyrene (EPS 10 kg/m3), closed cell non-cross-linked polyethylene (PE) foam (Select blue Ethafoam® 29 kg/m3) and closed cell cross-linked polyethylene foam (ML-33, 30 kg/m3). The specific cushion designs developed for the described materials have different package aspects such as cost; environmental impact and functionality (cushion properties).

The results will show how cost, environmental impact and protective requirements are formulated into a package design problem, which is solved by the optimization methodology developed, with the aid of computational software tools. Possible interactions and conflicts between the three aspects are considered.