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Biomass feedstock production into LCA of bio-sourced chemicals: a palm oil-based surfactant case study

Biomass feedstock production into LCA of bio-sourced chemicals: a palm oil-based surfactant case study. Martinez Sylvain, Hure Léa, Bessou Cécile, Guibot Jérôme, Helias Arnaud. 2015. In : Life Cycle Management Conference 2015: list of abstracts. Bordeaux : ISM-CIRAIG, Résumé, 36-37.

International Conference on Life Cycle Management. 7, Bordeaux, France, 30 Août 2015/2 Septembre 2015.

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Résumé : When companies focus on environmental considerations, the use of bio-sourced compounds is often highlighted. Arguments put forward are the renewable aspect and the independence from oil, implicitly promising low environmental impacts. However, the environmental burden of the biomass feedstock may highly vary. Only a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) from the biomass feedstock production up to the downstream transformation steps of chemicals can allow for ascertaining whether bio-sourced chemicals are better for the environment than their fossil equivalents. This paper deals with the LCA of a surfactant (alkyl polyglucoside) partially produced from palm oil. We studied the varying contribution of the Fresh Fruit Bunches production (FFB), within the assessment of the whole production chain of the surfactant, according to various agricultural alternatives. These alternatives were based on a literature review highlighting the key drivers of palm oil environmental impacts. These are the soil (mineral vs. peat), the previous land use (i.e. deforestation or not), the lifespan of palm plantation, the crop inputs, the palm oil yield, and the waste and co-product use (locally produced electricity, waste treatment plant, etc.). We carried out the LCA of 1 kg of surfactant at plant level with the International reference Life Cycle Data system (ILCD) as LCIA method. In the reference scenario, we considered most common industrial practices for FFB production and average yield from FAO statistics (2008-2012). In this surfactant reference scenario, the contribution of FFB production varies across the impact categories from 18% (human toxicity, non-cancer effect) to 85% (land use); the median value is 32%. It contributes to 77% of the climate change impact. The feedstock production is clearly one of the main drivers of the final product impacts. When exploring the agricultural alternatives, the variations in contributions highly depend on the impact category. The range is small for human toxicity, non-cancer effect, 18% ±4.5%; higher for land use 85%±20%; but tremendous for climate change 77%±133%. These results highlight that agricultural choices during the FFB production influence the environmental assessment of the palm oil-based surfactant. This work underlines the importance of considering detailed production systems for the feedstock source for bio-based products, while generic background data are often used for this step. (Texte intégral)

Classification Agris : Q70 - Traitement des déchets agricoles
P01 - Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Martinez Sylvain, INRA (FRA)
  • Hure Léa, INRA (FRA)
  • Bessou Cécile, CIRAD-PERSYST-UPR Systèmes de pérennes (FRA)
  • Guibot Jérôme, SEPPIC (FRA)
  • Helias Arnaud, Montpellier SupAgro (FRA)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop

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