Prospective evaluation of circular economy practices within plastic packaging value chain through optimization of life cycle impacts and circularity
The increasing demand for plastic products continues to result in a growing tonnage of plastic packaging waste with significant environmental consequences. Circular economy models are established to overcome the resource and environmental challenges caused by this increase. In the literature, the evaluation of how the plastic packaging value chain can be enhanced by circular economy practices remains underexplored. This paper aims to explore the impact of three circular economy models on the European plastic packaging value chain, covering circular economy strategies:, (i) promoting cross-sectoral valorization of plastic wastes through IS, (ii) improvement in recycling efficiency of wastes within the plastics sector, and (iii) introduction of a new bio-based biodegradable plastic product. Three linear single-objective optimization models were developed for maximization of environmental benefits and circularity, to assess how European plastics wastes supply chains could be made more circular by 2025. The results show that if better upcycling options including industrial symbiosis can be identified and established in the future, in addition to the composting as a viable End of Life option, plastic packaging value chain can create higher environmental benefits. Also, all circular economy strategies contribute to the improvement of circularity.