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I am working to model the life cycle of packaging that can be re-used. I have seen the many instances discussing how to model recycling through disposal/waste stream. How does one go about modeling the re-use of a product?
in openLCA by (160 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
by (50.8k points)

That is a good question - there is an easy and a more complicated answer.

Easy answer: just model the packaging recyclate as input to the process that is producing the packaging, this works.

Complicated answer: The easy answer works only if you have set the amounts correctly, otherwise, you put two conditions on one process (production of a certain amount of product, with given input ratios, and with input depending on the production of the process), which cannot be satisfied at the same time.

Overall, thus, an easier solution might be to not close the loop for the recycled packaging, you will then have recycled packaging as input and recycled packaging as output, and can yourself calculate the net recycled packaging for your system. We are currently preparing an example case study on packaging where this will be addressed.

by (160 points)
edited by
Would that case study by a youtube tutorial? I have no idea how many times I have already watched through the tutorials I have found on youtube to help guide me through this work I am doing, as this is my first time using OpenLCA, not to mention my first time doing a LCA as well!

Per the complicated answer, I have established a process/flow for a recycled plastic to be combined with virgin plastic for the material production of the plastic container I am working to model. Would I then just be combining the re-use with that recycled plastic process/flow I created?

And how/where would I go to input the  number of re-uses that packaging system goes through?

by (50.8k points)
Yes, we will write a pdf and think about a youtube tutorial as well, this is indeed not covered in any of the other tutorials yet.
For the "complicated answer": just do not put the loop into your model. The number of reuses can be addressed by modeling the net input of recycled material.
by (160 points)
So that would be modeling in terms of an open-loop recycling? Regarding modeling the number of reuses, would that just be going into my processes and increasing the unit value? e.g. if I wanted to model a steel drum being used 5 times, then I would set the unit value for number of items at 5, correct?