Life Cycle Assessment

A life cycle assessment (LCA) is a sustainable development tool that enables a manufacturer to measure and to quantify the environmental impact of a product, a process or a service, while taking into account all their life cycle stages, from Cradle to Grave. More concretely, the LCA takes into account the acquisition of resources (extraction, converting), the transport of raw material, manufacturing (assembly and packaging), distribution (warehousing, handling, transport), usage (maintenance, repairs, reusability) and end of life management (recovery, recycling, reclamation, landfill sites).

Regulated by ISO 14040 standards, the LCA is a sophisticated tool that is essential in the context of continuous improvement. Its results enable the comparison of options (processes, materials, products, services and policies) and the shaping of decisions.

For the past five years, Cascades has worked in unison with the The Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG), an initiative of l'École Polytechnique. To date, some of our products or groups of products have been under intense scrutiny by CIRAIG research workers or Cascades' Research and Development Centre.

Discover the steps of the life cycle assessment (video)


We are proud to share with you the results for the following products:


Food packaging products

Life Cycle Assessment

We decided to assess the environmental impacts of seven food trays similar in size but made of different materials. As these trays are all made by Cascades Specialty Products Group, we did not favour an option in particular, since we offer them all.

The study set out to evaluate the environmental performance of the trays, from manufacturing to end of life. Two products from the study showed a vastly superior performance: oriented polystyrene (OPS) foam, and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) foam.

The results show that the production of our trays, including the raw materials, has far more impact than their end-of-life (landfi lling, recycling, composting, etc.). Therefore, our polystyrene foam, composed of 90% air, offers an undeniable ecological advantage, despite the fact that it is not commonly recycled.

The analysis also pointed to improvements that could be made to further reduce the products' environmental impact. 


Oriented polystyrene (OPS) foam

Results of the analysis

  • The quantity of material has a significant impact
  • The type of energy used is a decisive factor
  • The impact relative to end of life is minimal

The life cycle analysis demonstrates that polystyrene foam (No. 6 plastic), made up of 90% air, offers a distinct ecological advantage despite the fact that it contains very little recycled material.


Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) foam

Results of the analysis

  • The quantity of virgin material has a significant impact
  • The type of energy used is a decisive factor

The life cycle analysis indicates that the more recycled material a PET (No. 4 plastic) product contains, the more it provides an environmentally friendly packaging solution. More and more, Cascades is opting for RPET to reduce its environmental footprint.

Our transparent RPET packaging solutions are manufactured with hydroelectric power, a green source of energy.


Reports and Publications

For more information, we invite you to consult one of the following documents:

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