Life Cycle Assessment of the Stonyfield Farm Product Delivery System
Stonyfield Farm's (www.stonyfield.com) concern for the environment prompted it to consider the impacts of its refrigerated yogurt product delivery beyond the traditional focus on container disposal and solid waste. Stonyfield partnered with Polytainers Inc., its principal packaging supplier, to sponsor this study which applies a life cycle approach to assessing the total environmental burden of its yogurt product delivery system (PDS). The two companies recognized that adopting a life cycle approach would enhance decision-making regarding their environmental performance.The primary purpose of this report is to provide Stonyfield Farm and Polytainers with a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the current yogurt PDS. The PDS consists of primary packaging (yogurt containers), secondary packaging (corrugated boxes, pallets, etc.) and all transportation links required to deliver the materials, packaging and yogurt products between the system model components. The LCA results were then used to identify segments of the PDS that contained the highest environmental burdens and those that represented opportunities for improvement. The LCA methodology used for the current PDS was then applied to the following four alternative systems:
- A PDS that uses high density polyethylene (HDPE) in place of polypropylene (PP) cups;
- A PDS that uses a thermoforming manufacturing process instead of injection molding;
- A PDS that uses coated unbleached paperboard in place of PP cups; and
- A PDS that uses polylactide (PLA) in place of PP cups.
It was shown that the energy intensity of a PDS is directly correlated to the size of the containers, the mass of the materials used, the manufacturing processes and the material composition. In general, environmental burdens are inversely related to container size. Results also show that the burdens associated with the transport of yogurt and the material production of the secondary packaging were very significant. A comparison of the alternative configurations reveals that the choice of cup material may vary by container size. Recommendations for reducing environmental burdens focus on container size, manufacturing processes, material composition, as well as distribution and light-weighting of both the primary and secondary packaging materials.