A web-based decision support tool for environmental sustainability of packaging

Date

2012

Authors

Gutta, Rajesh

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Abstract

Packaging is essential for every product in terms of protection, promotion, handling and so on. Packaging makes a valuable contribution to economic, environmental and social sustainability through protecting products, preventing waste, and providing consumers with the benefits of the products it contains. If a packaging method results in negative effects on economy, environment and social progress, then it is not really sustainable. Currently, not many decision support tools are available for the environmental aspect of packaging. The existing tools mostly concentrate on a particular industry or proprietary use within a firm. This thesis proposes a decision support tool for general industries, which suggests the most environmental friendly packaging materials based on the product characteristics provided by users. A web-based program is developed to realize the decision support tool. Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used to prioritize the packaging materials considering environmental impacts and product characteristics and then suggests the most sustainable material(s). With the proposed tool, users can analyze the differences between the current packaging materials of a certain product and the alternative materials suggested by the tool. The tool considers the environmental impact of the entire lifecycle of packaging materials from manufacturing stage to the shipment of the materials and the distribution of packaged products. This research provides a new way to examine the sustainability of packaging and addresses an important aspect of sustainability of all industries.

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Department

Mechanical Engineering