Understanding and modeling the environmental impact of manufactured products is becoming increasingly important in many industries, and the composites industry is no exception. Consequently, many manufacturers either want or are required to assess this aspect of their products and components. Until now, however, the data required for performing a life cycle analysis (LCA) has not been available, particularly for the raw materials used in the production process.
Last year, Europe's leading glass fiber producers, under the auspices of the Glass Fibre Europe (GFE) association, collected and published key statistics for standard glass fiber products. Now, for the first time, the AVK (the European Federation of Reinforced Plastics) working party on sustainability has collected data for standard formulations in the area of resins.
Three of the leading resin suppliers in Europe — Ashland Performance Materials, CCP Composites and Reichhold – have consolidated their key data and the results show the impact of standard resins in terms of carbon footprint (CO2 emissions), embodied energy and other environmental effects (climate change, water consumption, etc.). Due to the significance of these resin suppliers in the market, this data can be considered representative for the European market as a whole.
AVK says he results will be presented in detail at the next AVK working party meeting on sustainability, which will take place on May 8, 2014. In the next phase, the members of the working party are planning to update existing public LCI databases, and then develop a tool that will allow composites manufacturers to produce a life cycle analysis for their own components.