Title: Environmental impact of refillable vs. non-refillable plastic beverage bottles in Norway

Authors: Eirill Bø; Trond Hammervoll; Kjetil Tvedt

Addresses: Department of Strategy and Logistics, Norwegian School of Management, NO-0442 Oslo, Norway ' Department of Business Administration and Social Sciences, Harstad University College, NO-9480 Harstad, Norway ' Norsk Industri (The Federation of Norwegian Industries), NO- 0306 Oslo, Norway

Abstract: This research compares the environmental impact, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, of using refillable polyethylene terephthalate (REF-PET) and non-refillable polyethylene terephthalate (NR-PET) bottles in the Norwegian soft drink and carbonated water market. A Microsoft Excel spread sheet was developed in close cooperation with Coca-Cola, Mack, Telemark Springwater, and three of the main food wholesalers in Norway: NorgesGruppen, Coop, and Rema. While academic writers have criticised such life-cycle analysis as impractical, too time-consuming, expensive, and demanding too much effort, and instead advocated qualitative evaluation methods, this project demonstrates that a data-based approach is fully feasible. The research team identifies the CO2 emissions associated with various activities, and finds that NR-PET bottles generate 18% less CO2 emissions than REF-PET bottles. This research provides practical suggestions for achieving environmentally friendly packaging solutions. As a consequence of the study findings, the grocery industry initiated efforts to change legislation, and major Norwegian actors have changed their policies.

Keywords: environmentally friendly packaging; green packaging; environmental accounting; recycling; reuse; bottles; beverage logistics; non-refillable bottles; refillable bottles; environmental impact; plastic bottles; Norway; drinks bottles; greenhouse gases; GHG emissions; polyethylene terephthalate; PET bottles; soft drinks; carbonated water; life cycle analysis; LCA; CO2; carbon dioxide; carbon emissions; packaging policy.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESD.2013.056343

International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, 2013 Vol.12 No.4, pp.379 - 395

Received: 10 May 2012
Accepted: 24 Apr 2013

Published online: 28 Jan 2014 *

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