Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
What is a Life Cycle Assessment?
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is fundamental to understanding how Avantium’s technologies compete with fossil-based alternatives, as well as the potential sustainability benefits of our technologies. LCA is the most recognised method to quantitatively assess potential environmental impacts of products, services or processes.
An LCA assesses the whole value chain of a product, from the extraction or cultivation of raw materials through production, use and disposal of the product (“cradle to grave”). Environmental impacts that are usually evaluated include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, impacts on natural resources, ecosystems and human health. An LCA can be used as scientific basis to compare different products and to identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement.
LCA at Avantium
PEF Global Warming Potential (2012)
In 2012, Avantium conducted an initial Global Warming Potential (GWP) evaluation of the YXY® Technology process in collaboration with the Copernicus Institute at the University of Utrecht (Eerhart et al. 2012). Eerhart et al showed the high potential of PEF by an initial process analysis, as well as energy and GHG balances for the production of FDCA and PEF from 1st and 2nd generation feedstocks. You can find this GWP evaluation here.
LCA PEF applications (2022)
Avantium partnered with nova-Institut GmbH under the framework of the PEFerence project, to perform a full cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for the world’s first FDCA Flagship Plant based on the YXY® Technology, assessing the potential environmental impacts of a 250 ml PEF bottle packaging solutions in comparison to conventional PET alternatives. A critical peer review of the study, including experts of LCA methodology as well as incumbent packaging solutions, was conducted in order to verify whether the LCA met the requirements for methodology, data, interpretation and reporting. The press release and a summary of this LCA is available here:
LCA PlantMEG (2022)
Avantium partnered with Sphera to perform a cradle-to-grave LCA for Avantium’s plantMEG™ with a regional focus on Europe in its most applicable market (PET bottles) in 2025, assessing the environmental impacts of plantMEG™ (mono-ethylene glycol) based on the the Ray Technology™ compared with current incumbent alternative production routes of MEG (using natural gas, naphtha, shale gas and coal feedstock). The plantMEG™ LCA study has been conducted according to the guidelines of ISO 14040/14044 and has been reviewed by an external critical review panel. The press release and a documentation package about the results of the LCA can be found here:
Avantium partnered with Sphera to perform a cradle-to-grave LCA for plantMPG™, produced with the Ray Technology™ from sucrose derived from Dutch sugar beet from Cosun Beet Company. Avantium’s plantMPG™ is compared to incumbent MPG production routes from fossil raw materials (naphtha- and shale-derived propylene) and renewable raw materials (soy- and rapeseed-derived glycerine). The plantMPG™ LCA study has been conducted according to the guidelines of ISO 14040/14044 and has been reviewed by an external independent critical review panel. The press release and a documentation package about the results of the LCA can be found here:
Use of Renewable Carbon
One of the inherent advantages of Avantium’s plant-based products PEF and plantMEG™ is the temporarily storage of carbon dioxide, since all plants absorb carbon during growth. Some international companies report carbon-negative climate change results for their biobased materials, taking this short-term carbon storage into account.
European LCA standards and methods do not allow carbon discounting based on temporary storage and therefore this is not included in the LCA’s that Avantium conducted.
It is proven, however, that the use of renewable carbon feedstocks for the production of plant-based chemicals and plastics has a clear link to reducing the risk of climate change. The carbon absorbed by plants is used to produce chemical materials, which is then released at the end of the product lifecycle, with a net neutral impact on the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. In contrast to this, fossil-based materials and plastics use fossil carbon, such as petroleum, which was previously stored underground and release this additional CO2 to the atmosphere.