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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Greenhouse gas emissions of bio-based diapers containing chemically modified protein superabsorbents

Capezza, Antonio J.; Newson, William; Muneer, Faraz; Johansson, Eva; Cui, Yuxiao; Hedenqvist, Mikael S.; Olsson, Richard T.; Prade, Thomas

Abstract

Replacing the current mainly fossil-based, disposable, and non-biodegradable sanitary products with sustainable, functional alternatives is an industry priority. Suggested biobased alternatives require evaluation of their actual impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We evaluated GHG emissions of biobased baby diapers as the most consumed sanitary product, using a biodegradable functionalized protein superabsorbent polymer (bioSAP) and compared them with currently used fossil-based counterparts. Assessment of the diapers also included estimated GHG emissions from the production of the biobased components, transport, and end-of-life combustion of these items. It was shown that only a few of the biobased diaper alternatives resulted in lower GHG emissions than commercial diapers containing fossil-based materials. At the same time, it was demonstrated that the production of the bioSAP via chemical modification of a protein raw material is the primary GHG contributor, with 78% of the total emissions. Reduction of the GHG contribution of the bioSAP production was achieved via a proposed recycling route of the functionalization agent, reducing the GHG emissions by 13% than if no recycling was carried out. Overall, we demonstrated that reduced and competitive GHG emissions could be achieved in sanitary articles using biobased materials, thereby contributing to a sanitary industry producing disposable products with less environmental pollution while allowing customers to keep their current consumption patterns.

Keywords

Superabsorbent; Diapers; Protein; Sustainability; Circularity

Published in

Journal of Cleaner Production
2022, volume: 387, article number: 135830

Authors' information

Capezza, Antonio J.
Royal Institute of Technology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding
Cui, Yuxiao
KTH Royal Inst Technol
Hedenqvist, Mikael S.
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
Olsson, Richard T.
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
SDG8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
SDG9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Environmental Engineering

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.135830

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/120486