Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Environmental benefits of material-efficient design: a hybrid life cycle assessment of a plastic milk bottle

Pomponi, Francesco; Li, Mengyu; Saint, Ruth; Lenzen, Manfred; D'Amico, Bernardino


Mengyu Li

Ruth Saint

Manfred Lenzen


Over a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, 20,000 every second. While there is agreement that single-use plastics should be phased out, records of plastic pollution point in the opposite direction. Until the phasing-out of single-use plastics materialises, there is an immediate opportunity to mitigate the environmental impacts of plastic use through better design, that is to improve material efficiency without affecting function or performance. In this article, we focus on a standard plastic milk bottle, which we redesign based on a previously developed shape factor for the sustainability of forms, achieving a ~13% material reduction. Environmental benefits are evaluated globally through hybrid life-cycle assessment (LCA) both in the 10 countries in which the original plastic bottle is used and the other 22 countries upstream in the supply chain. Results obtained through hybrid LCA are 17.3% higher than those obtained through process-based LCA. Environmental benefits arising in the 22 countries in the upstream supply chain are twice as much as those observed in the 10 countries where the original bottle is used. Overall, our findings show a potential annual reduction of ~1.9 Mt CO2e, equivalent to approximately 415,000 cars taken off the road, thus proving the substantial and viable benefits that can be achieved by material efficiency through redesign.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 28, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2022
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 1, 2023
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Pages 1044-1052
Keywords process-based; input-output; hybrid; life cycle assessment (LCA); plastic; waste; HDPE; optimisation; design
Public URL
Publisher URL


Environmental Benefits Of Material-efficient Design: A Hybrid Life Cycle Assessment Of A Plastic Milk Bottle (accepted version) (1.4 Mb)


Copyright Statement
Accepted version licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations