Environmental impact assessment of the implementation of a Deposit-Refund System for packaging waste in Spain: A solution or an additional problem?

Abstract: Food and beverage packaging represent a relevant fraction of municipal solid waste, and its adequate management is critical. Selective waste collection by an authorized organization according to an Extended Producer Responsibility System (EPRS) is the current option implemented in Spain for packaging. Other European countries have selected an alternative or a complement: a Deposit-Refund System (DRS) for certain type of beverage packaging. The selection of an EPRS or a DRS is a complex task and this work developed a universal methodology for the evaluation of optimal waste packaging management systems, focused on food and beverage. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach was applied to compare the current EPRS vs the implementation of a new system, with the coexistence of a DRS and a reduced EPRS. Although the environmental savings of the new system are superior to its impacts, even if the DRS would reach a value of 90% for the package return index, the current EPRS obtains significantly better environmental results. All impact categories are favorable to the current EPRS, except ADP, where the potentially higher DRS recycling rate is manifested. The impact associated to the flow of specific DRS packages in the new system is clearly higher than that linked to the flow of DRS excluded packages and it is even higher that the impact of the total joint flow in the current EPRS for all categories except ADP. The fundamental cause of this high impact is the backhauling stage to transport the recovered packages to the counting plants without compacting. A sensitivity analysis confirmed the robustness of the preference of the current EPRS over the combination of a DRS and a reduced EPRS. The developed approach supposes a methodological advance that can be extended to previously realized studies about the implementation of waste management systems in other contexts.

Otras publicaciones de la misma revista o congreso con autores/as de la Universidad de Cantabria

 Autoría: Abejón R., Laso J., Margallo M., Aldaco R., Blanca-Alcubilla G., Bala A., Fullana-i-Palmer P.,

 Fuente: Science of the Total Environment, 2020, 721, 137744

Editorial: Elsevier

 Fecha de publicación: 15/06/2020

Nº de páginas: 16

Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137744

ISSN: 0048-9697,1879-1026

Proyecto español: CTM2016-76176

Url de la publicación: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137744