Environmental Benefits Calculator

What is the Environmental Benefits Calculator?


The Estimated Environmental Benefits Calculator is a tool developed by NatureWorks to quantify the savings in non-renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by substituting Ingeo biopolymer for traditional oil-based polymers such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Since most people can not easily relate to units like kg CO2 equivalents or mega joules, the calculator goes one step further and describes these same advantages in terms of other activities with equivalent benefits. Examples include driving a car X miles, powering a 100 watt light bulb for Y years, or conserving Z barrels of oil. These equivalent benefits can be crafted into marketing statements appropriate to the product. This model estimates the benefits of replacing the incumbent polymer with Ingeo biopolymer on pellet level, so it is not a substitute for a complete life cycle assessment (LCA). To learn more about the life cycle assessment of Ingeo, please visit the Life Cycle Assessment page.

*To understand the effect of the use of renewable energy certification in the Japan market, please contact your Ingeo account manager.

How does the calculator work?

The model estimates the savings in non-renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for one phase of the polymers' life cycle: the cradle-to-pellet polymer production. Other aspects of the polymer life cycle such as the pellet-to-product conversion (e.g. thermoforming and film production), pellet packaging, transportation and end-of-life are not included. In many applications, the polymer production phase is where a majority of the environmental benefits occur, so these comparisons provide a first estimation of the benefits over the entire life cycle of these polymers. In a second step, these savings are expressed in terms of equivalent environmental scenarios.

What polymer production data is used?

The eco-profiles for the traditional polymers represent industry averages for the U.S. or Europe as published by the American Chemistry Council and PlasticsEurope. Where the eco-profile data is available from both the U.S. and Europe (EU) it is has been provided. The following table notes the source for each material in the calculator.

Polymer Region Publisher/Source
acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) US American Chemistry Council
acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) EU PlasticsEurope
polyethylene teraphthalate (cPET) US American Chemistry Council
polyethylene teraphthalate (cPET) EU PlasticsEurope
Nylon 6 EU PlasticsEurope
Nylon 66 EU PlasticsEurope
polycarbonate (PC) EU PlasticsEurope
polyethylene, high density (HDPE) US American Chemistry Council
polyethylene, high density (HDPE) EU PlasticsEurope
polyethylene, low density (LDPE) US American Chemistry Council
polyethylene, low density (LDPE) EU PlasticsEurope
polypropylene (PP) US American Chemistry Council
polypropylene (PP) EU PlasticsEurope
polystyrene, general purpose (GPPS) US American Chemistry Council
polystyrene, general purpose (GPPS) EU PlasticsEurope
polystyrene, high impact (HIPS) US American Chemistry Council
polystyrene, high impact (HIPS) EU PlasticsEurope
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) US American Chemistry Council
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) EU PlasticsEurope

For Ingeo, the calculator uses the 2014 eco-profile scenario. The data for this profile was published in the Journal of Industrial Biotechnology in June 2015. To ensure the Ingeo data is as comparable as possible with the eco-profile data from the American Chemistry Council and PlasticsEurope, the eco-profile for Ingeo biopolymer follows the same LCI methodology, is based on the latest version of PE International's GaBi LCA software and database, follows the ISO 14040/44 standards, and has been peer-reviewed by PE International engineers.

Where is the environmental equivalent data from?

The conversion data for calculating equivalents came from a variety of 3rd-party sources:

  • U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990-2012. EPA 430-R-14-003, EPA, 2014 (source)
  • International Energy Agency statistics search (source)
  • Fuel Properties Comparison, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Department of Energy (source)
  • Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) Version 1.5a, 12/2000, Argonne National Laboratory (source)
  • Global Passenger Vehicle Standards, 11/2014, The International Council on Clean Transportation (source)
  • EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, 2014 (source)