On our website, in presentations or in response to inquiries, you will find a wide variety of figures on the CO2e emissions of our products and our granulate. The question that naturally arises now is: What is true? Our answer: In principle, everything! It’s just that the different values refer to different products, have different reference products, and so on.
This article is intended to shed some light on this and explain how these figures come about.
LCA – What is calculated?
A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analyzes the environmental impact of a product. As the name suggests, the entire life cycle of the product is considered. The analysis therefore considers every step from cradle to grave. The results of an LCA are various values such as the CO2 emissions of a product or the effect on the ozone layer. These values are then compared with those of reference products, e.g. the WILDBAG is compared with conventional garbage bags (made of virgin plastic) and recycled garbage bags.
The analysis of our products primarily covers greenhouse gases and makes them comparable with each other in units of CO2 equivalents (CO2e). To do this, the climate impact of the individual greenhouse gases is calculated down to the climate impact of CO2.
Methodology and framework
Right at the beginning, it is important to know that we use the same scientific calculation model for all our calculations and set the same framework for consideration.
Our analysis starts with the extraction of raw materials and ends with the end-of-life scenario. In the latter, we look at how the product life cycle ends. In our case, there are two possibilities here. First, the WILDBAG can be used for residual waste, so it will probably be incinerated, and second, it can be used for the yellow bag/recyclable waste garbage can, in which case it will probably be recycled.
This is also the same for all products and also applies to the reference products.
The assumptions and variables
We constantly update the assumptions and variables in our calculations. If, for example, a new collection organization is added, we have the material recycled at a different location, or we produce with a different partner, then of course the emissions of the product produced also change. However, this does not automatically make the calculations for the other products incorrect. Only different assumptions apply to them.
In addition, it plays a major role with which reference products are compared. For example, the 35L WILDBAG (19.2g) is closer to the average weight of the reference product samples (14.7g) than the 60L WILDBAG (30.2g) is to its reference products (16.3g). Therefore, the 35L WILDBAG compares better than the 60L to its reference products.
If you want to know more, please visit our LCA page.
Where do the different values come from?
The ‘up to 70%’ savings appeared in connection with our 60l WILDBAGs, but that has been corrected. More about this in the section ‘Corrections’.
But the 70% also appears in another context. Namely when it comes to the WILDPLASTIC shipping bags. Compared to shipping bags made from virgin material, we save up to 70% CO2e if the bags are recycled. We assume the same weight but more pressure on the part of the WILDPLASTIC variant.
On the LCA page we write that in the best case we save 60% CO2. This refers to the 35L WILDBAG and is due to the above mentioned reasons.
For those who follow us more closely, a third figure even emerges: 90% savings. This refers to the comparison of WILDPLASTIC LDPE granulate to virgin LDPE granulate.
We will probably not be able to reach this value for our products, because in the best case the materials do not differ any more in the actual production. Therefore, the same emissions are estimated here and the relative savings will be lower even if the nominal savings remain the same.
On the product and home page, we have previously talked about a maximum of 70% savings with the 60L WILDBAG. However, after we went through all the assumptions and formulas of our calculations again for this blog article, we noticed an error. We had not correctly translated an assumption into a formula. The percentage of recycled plastic was mapped incorrectly in the formula and so the emissions for the reference product were overstated.
In addition, we had to make the WILDBAGs thicker in our last production than in the production of the prototypes because the material was more contaminated.
Due to this error correction and the new data of the WILDBAG, we save “only” 60% CO2e in the best case.
It’s good that we had the opportunity to adjust and correct the figures.
The difficulty of communication
It’s a big challenge for us communicatively to package the results of our analyses in a way that is both appealing and accurate in content, while also providing enough context to understand the values.
As can be seen on our LCA page, there are scenarios in which we do quite well. The 60% and 70% and yes even the 90% savings are “correct” in themselves and we are convinced that we don’t need to hide that either. But neither should we hide the fact that there are products that have lower CO2e emissions than ours. And that’s perfectly okay. Because our mission is to rid the world of plastic waste. Of course, that doesn’t give us permission to blow disproportionate amounts of CO2 into the air, hence the full transparency.
The most climate-friendly way is to produce no garbage at all or at least as little as possible. Then you don’t need any or only a few garbage bags. True to the motto: Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.