Criteria for Assessing Sustainability of Lignocellulosic Wastes: Applied to the Cellulose Nanofibril Packaging Production in the UK
Extensive use of petrochemical plastic packaging leads to the greenhouse gas emission and contamination to soil and oceans, posing major threats to the ecosystem. The packaging needs, hence, are shifting to bioplastics with natural degradability. Lignocellulose, the biomass from forest and agriculture, can produce cellulose nanofibrils (CNF), a biodegradable material with acceptable functional properties, that can make packaging among other products. Compared to primary sources, CNF extracted from lignocellulosic wastes reduces the feedstock cost without causing an extension to agriculture and associated emissions. Most of these low value feedstocks go to alternative applications, making their use in CNF packaging competitive. To transfer the waste materials from current practices to the packaging production, it is imperative to assess their sustainability, encompassing environmental and economic impacts along with the feedstock physical and chemical properties. A combined overview of these criteria is absent in the literature. This study consolidates thirteen attributes, delineating sustainability of lignocellulosic wastes for commercial CNF packaging production. These criteria data are gathered for the UK waste streams, and transformed into a quantitative matrix, evaluating the waste feedstock sustainability for CNF packaging production. The presented approach can be adopted to decision scenarios in bioplastics packaging conversion and waste management.