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Environmental assessment of beer serving at festivals

This report describes the results of an environmental assessment of the serving of beer at festivals, using several different types of beer glass. The project was carried out by NORSUS on behalf of the Øya Festival. The project is funded by Handelens Miljøfond.

The primary goal of the project has been to contribute increased knowledge regarding the environmental impact of various solutions for beverage serving. This will in turn contribute to a reduction in both potential climate impact and plastic waste at festivals and events.
The following four options have been analysed:
1a. Polypropylene (PP) disposable glassware
1b. Disposable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recyclable glass
2. Disposable polylactate disposable glasses (PLA)
3. Recycled glass made of PP

The two environmental impact categories to have been assessed are potential climate impact and the risk of littering. The risk of littering is evaluated by means of mass balance and a qualitative assessment, while potential climate impact is determined using life cycle assessment (LCA). The functional unit in the analysis is defined as serving 1000 pints of beer. In the life cycle analyses, two different methods, cut-off and system expansion, have been employed for modelling recycling. Both methods are defined as being valid means of modelling recycling, while having different procedures for distributing burdens and gains in relation to recycling between the first and second product systems. The use of cut-off favours the utilisation of recycled material in the product under analysis, while the employment of system expansion favours recycling of the product after use. There are also other modelling modes for recycling, such as the European Commission's Circular Footprint Formula (CFF) within the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) system. The two modelling methods chosen in this report represent two extremes and their use therefore assists in testing the robustness of the results.

The analyses have been carried out for festivals in two different categories: those with a collection system and those with a collection system plus additional collection. The extra collection is carried out by volunteers who pick up rubbish and sort the waste at source, thus helping to reduce waste. Return rates and wastage in the analysis are based on experience statistics from the Øya Festival, assuming the deposit and fee rates that have been used until now. There has been no assessment of how a possible change in mortgage or fee rates would affect the results.
The results of the analyses show the following three factors as being important in relation to the climate impact of the beer glasses:
• How much new plastic has to be produced per serving?
• How much plastic is sent for incineration?
• How much is recycled and can therefore replace the extraction of virgin raw material?
In other words, the degree of return and wastage has a substantial impact on the results. These two factors also have a bearing on the risk of littering for the various alternatives. The qualitative assessments show that the choice of collection system at the festival can be assumed to have a greater impact on the risk of littering than the choice of beer glass alternative. With this as a basis, it is recommended that festivals wishing to reduce their environmental impact establish efficient systems for collecting beer glasses, and quantify wastage and degree of return, regardless of the beer glass solution they choose. The industry as a whole is encouraged to quantify and follow the development of wastage and degree of return over time, and to participate in experience exchange identifying the measures that are most effective in reducing wastage.

Festivals that currently have a disposable system can achieve a significant climate benefit through the introduction of a collection system; the glasses then being sent for material recycling, using, for example, a deposit scheme.
For festivals with extra collection, recycled glass made of PP and disposable glass made of PET with a minimum of 80% recycled material give the best result.
For festivals with extra collection, recycled glass made of PP and disposable glass made of PET with a minimum of 80% recycled material give the best result.

For festivaler uten ekstra oppsamling gir engangsglass av PP og engangsglass av PET med minimum 50% resirkulert materiale best resultat.

A significant degree of collection and accumulation has even more importance regarding the climate impact of reusable glass, than for disposable glass, as the reusable glass is thicker and thus consists of more plastic. The sensitivity analyses showed that when the recycling is the solution of choice, the shrinkage must be less than 15% if it is to give a better result than disposable glass PP with a recycling system. This is because the same loss percentage of beer glass within the two systems results in a greater loss of plastic in the case of recycled glass. When compared with disposable glass, this entails both higher combustion emissions and the requirement for putting more plastic into the system.
The purpose of this report has been to shed light on the environmental aspects to solutions for serving drinks at festivals. When making a decision on the selection of a beer glass solution, it is essential to look at the results together with other considerations, such as those of economics and practicality.