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2SPD-013 A comparative life cycle assessment of different packaging options for albumin distribution
  1. A Bala Gala1,
  2. R Antúnez Retamal2,
  3. L Clemente Martí2
  1. 1Esci-Upf, Unesco Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Grup Carles, Engineering and Sustainability, Igualada, Spain


Background and Importance Traditionally, albumin has been presented in glass vial packaging, but is it the optimal choice for its distribution?

In recent times, many pharmaceutical companies have shifted from glass vials to plastic bags to deliver their hospital products. Plastic bags have demonstrated clear advantages for both nurses (as glass carries a higher risk of breakage) and patients (since the bag does not require air inlet, so there is less risk of contamination). However, plastic bags are often perceived as harmful to ecosystems.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides the scientific evidence on the actual impact of the entire process. Therefore, when comparing glass and plastic packaging for the same product under LCA methodology, the scientific proof regarding environmental impacts is stablished.

Aim and Objectives The goal of this study is to compare the environmental performance of glass and plastic packaging options for delivering albumin 100 ml doses in the European market, considering all their life cycle stages.

Material and Methods A cradle-to-grave LCA has been performed, considering the distribution of 10.000 units of albumin (20%) served in 100 ml doses to hospitals as a reference or functional unit.

The Product Environmental Footprint method (E.F. 3.0) has been used for the environmental assessment of the alternatives. However, only the more 9 relevant impact categories after normalising the results plus water scarcity indicator have been analysed in further detail.

The study has been conducted following ISO 14.044 standard, using LCA for Experts software Gabi (until very recently known as GaBi) and their relative databases (2023_1 update).

Results Plastic bags perform better than glass vials in all the impact categories analysed. Regarding climate change total (CC) the improvement is 23%. Also noteworthy is the 55% reduction in water scarcity impact.

Conclusion and Relevance Although plastics are popularly considered harmful to ecosystems, plastic bags have less environmental impact than glass vials. So, for 10.000 units of albumin (20%) served in 100ml dose with plastic bag instead glass vial, the emission of 655 kg of CO2eq and the consume of 355 m3 of water are avoided. This is equivalent to travelling about 3.930 km in an average car and to take 3.500 five-minute showers, respectively.

Conflict of Interest No conflict of interest.

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