A Comparison of Methods for Evaluating "Environmental Choice" Packaging

C. Clare Hinrichs
Ellen Z. Harrison

DOI: 10.2190/1LYR-77C3-QUVF-2JFX


Determining "environmental choice" products within product categories is not always obvious, and formal life cycle assessment is rarely possible for solid waste educators. Three more streamlined packaging evaluation methods and the practice-based assessments of a waste reduction educator are compared in evaluating product choices in dishwashing liquid, fabric softener, cranberry juice, pancakes, and soup. The Cornell method includes weight and volume-based measures, with an adjustment for local recyclability of packaging materials, and a transportation efficiency measure. The Tellus method assigns "environmental costs" based on the unadjusted weight of packaging waste, while the CONEG method entails qualitative application of "preferred packaging guidelines." The methods ranked products within categories similarly when choices involved different sized versions of the same packaging materials. They disagreed when product choices involved different packaging materials, not all of which were locally recyclable. Recommendations include more development of source reduced, recyclable packaging containing concentrated products.

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