Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) of paper making process in Iran

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 10(24), pp. 4860-4870, 6 June, 2011
Available online at
ISSN 1684–5315 © 2011 Academic Journals
Full Length Research Paper
Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) of paper making
process in Iran
Sotoodehnia Poopak* and P. Agamuthu
Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Accepted 4 March, 2011
Forests play an important role on carbon concentration, unchecked harvesting could cause increase in
carbon concentration. In this study, the environmental impact caused by paper production at Pars
Paper Factory, Iran, was evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA) approach. The ISO 14040 series
were used as references. The functional unit considered was producing one metric tonne of paper for
one year. The Centre of Environmental Science, Leiden University, NL, 2000 (CML2 Baseline2000)
method was chosen for this LCA study. Ten impact categories were identified as follow: Abiotic
depletion, acidification, eutrophication, global warming, ozone layer depletion, human toxicity, fresh
water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity and photochemical
oxidation. From the results, using bagasse and electricity contributed the lowest impact value because
both of these inputs used renewable sources. However, using heavy fuel oil (in this case mazut) gives
the highest impact to global warming. Chlorine from bleaching sector contributes the impact for
photochemical oxidation and ozone layer depletion. From the results obtained, the use of bagasse
instead of wood in paper and pulp factory, has potential to reduce global warming impact.
Hydroelectricity as the source of energy has less impact on the environment, while mazut may result in
acidification, global warming and ozone layer depletion.
Key words: Life cycle assessment, Centre of. Environmental Science, Leiden University, NL, 2000 (CML2
Baseline 2000) bagasse, paper making process.
World paper and paperboard demand is expected to
grow to about 2.1% till year 2020 and the growth will be
fastest in Eastern Europe, Asia (except Japan) and Latin
America (Forsstrom et al., 2006). Paper and pulp sector
are one of the main consumers of fibrous wood resources
which has significant impact on the climate change by
affecting forest resources. There are two kinds of paper
production: (a) Using wood (virgin) as raw materials and
(b) using non-virgin material like kanaf and bagasse
(Honnold, 2009). There are several studies that applied
*Corresponding author.
E-mail: Tel:
Abbreviations: LCA, Life Cycle Assessment; GHG,
greenhouse gases; LCI, life cycle inventory; LCIA, life cycle
impact assessment; IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change; OBA, optical brightness agent; EP, eutrophication;
CFC, chlorofluorocarbons.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in pulp and paper products
(Merrild et al., 2008; Murphy and Power, 2007; Schmidt
et al., 2007; Holmgren and Hening, 2005; Dias et al.,
2007; Wiegard, 2001; Fu et al., 2005 and Dias et al.,
2002). In their research, they discovered that energy and
water consumption, greenhouse gases (GHG), methane
emissions, chlorine and raw materials used for non-virgin
papers are less than virgin material. This study focused
on LCA of non-virgin material (baggasse) in paper factory
in Iran.
The Pars Paper Factory is a government owned factory
located in Southwest Iran and is 500 m from Hafttapeh
Sugarcane Factory. It was established in 1963 with a
production capacity of 35,000 metric tonne per year.
Nowadays, the production of this factory has reached
40,000 metric tonne per year. Hafttapeh Sugarcane
Factory was supplying bagasse to the paper factory.
Water for this process is provided from the Dez River
which is also near the factory. Source of energy for this
factory is hydroelectricity and mazut. Mazut is a
Poopak and Agamuthu
Figure 1. Transported bagasse through the conveyer belts from the sugarcane factory to the paper factory.
brownish-black petroleum fraction consisting largely of
distillation residues from asphaltic-type crude oils, with a
relative density of about 0.95 which is used as the source
of energy for heating and steam-raising for furnace, kilns
and boilers. Bagasse is the fibrous residue remaining
after sugarcane is crushed to extract its juice and is
currently used as a renewable resource in the manufacture of pulp and paper products. The fibers are about
1.7 mm long and are well suited for tissue, corrugating
medium, news print and writing paper. This factory has
three production units as follows: (1) Preparation of
bagasse (2) pulp mill and (3) paper mill.
agricultural crops rather than wood has the added
advantage of reducing deforestation (Ekvall, 1999). Due
to the fact that bagasse can be chemically pulped,
bagasse requires less bleaching chemicals than wood
pulp to achieve a bright, white sheet of paper (Kadam,
2002). Because of this, there are fewer impacts from the
materials used in the bleaching section, such as chlorine,
to the environment. The bagasse contains 65 to 68%
fiber, 25 to 30% pith, 2% sugar and 1 to 2% minerals. It is
passed through the process called depithing, where the
fiber is separated from the pith. It is then, cleaned up and
is ready to be used for pulp and paper milling processes.
Preparation of bagasse
Pulp mill
Non-virgin material used in paper factory is from farmed
trees. The farmed trees are supplied by supplier and cut
into small pieces. The farmed tree is known as a
bagasse. It is provided by the sugarcane factory which is
500 m from the paper factory. The materials are sent to
the paper factory through pipes or conveyer belts and the
energy used for this is electricity (Figure 1). Using
The aim of this process is to produce pulp that can be
used for paper milling. During pulp milling, a few subprocesses such as cooking, washing, screening, ticking
and bleaching are carried out (Figure 2 and 3). In the final
stage (bleaching), Cl (chlorine gas) and NaOH are used
to change the black liquor (black pulp) color to white color
and the process is usually done three times.
Afr. J. Biotechnol.
Figure 2. Cooking process on pulp mill in Pars Paper Factory.
Figure 3. Pulp screening and cleaning in Pars Paper Factory.
Poopak and Agamuthu
Paper mill
Paper milling is the last process in producing paper. The
pulp will go through several processes (stock preparation,
wet end, draying section and cutting and wrapping) to
finally become paper. Pulp is insufficient for making
paper so in this section materials such as kraft are added
to improve the pulp. The paper which is white in color is
cut to A4 size. At this stage, the moisture in the paper is
reduced to 55 to 60%.
depletion of fossil fuels and non-renewable resources, developed
LCA as an approach to understand the impacts of energy consumption (Bathish, 2006). LCA is a phase-approach methodology. LCA
can maintain consistency by using the ISO 14040 series of
standards (ISO, 14040, 1997). Life cycle of a product include four
main stages: Production stage, manufacturing stage, use stage and
end-of-life stage. The environmental evaluation using the LCA
approach is done by applying four steps: Defining the goal and
scope of the study, establishing a life cycle inventory (LCI), life
cycle impact assessment (LCIA) and finally, interpretation of
environmental burden associated with the product (Murphy, 2004).
Goals and scope definition
Problem statement
Paper is made from plant fibers called cellulose which are
found in wood. Cellulose must be converted into pulp
before being used to manufacture paper. To begin the
papermaking process, recovered fiber is shredded and
mixed with water to make pulp. The pulp is washed,
refined and cleaned then, turned to slush in a beater.
Nowadays, by rapid economic development and
population growth, the demand for paper has increased
globally. More demand on paper needs more harvesting
of woody materials. Uncontrolled harvesting of wood can
caused deforestation, climate change, etc. However,
producing one metric tonne of paper from non-virgin
materials such as bagasse, kanaf and bamboo can save
17 trees, 3.3 cubic meter (m3) of landfill space, 360 L of
water, 100 L of gasoline, 60 pounds of air pollutants and
10401 kilowatt of electricity (Malaysian Newsprint
Industries, 2007 and WasteCap, 2008). In addition,
GHGs such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and
nitrous oxide (N2O) are critical components of the earth’s
atmosphere. These gases act like a blanket, trapping
heat around the earth and temperatures necessary for
human life. However, anthropogenic activities such as
fossil fuel burning, land clearing and deforestation can
thickened the greenhouse blanket which means, can
have effect on climate changes. This paper is aimed to
identify all impacts of paper making process in Iran, using
LCA as a tool.
Objective of study
The objectives of this study are, to evaluate the environmental performance of paper manufacturing process and
to identify inputs that have environmental potential from
the paper manufacturing process for producing of one
metric tonne of paper for one year.
The goals of the LCA study are to evaluate the environmental
performance of paper manufacturing process and identify inputs
that have environmental potential from the paper manufacturing
process of one metric tonne of paper for one year.
Scopes of the LCA study
System boundary: In this study, the A4 size paper commonly used
for writing, printing and copying a document was chosen as an
assessing subject in the life cycle assessment. The life cycle of an
A4 paper starts from the raw material extraction stage, production
stage, use stage and end-up at the disposal stage (Figure 4).
However, the system boundary of the study only focused on the
paper production process stage (dotted line in Figure 4).
Functional unit: The functional unit was set as the production of
one metric tonne of paper for one year.
LCIA method: Impact assessment is an important step in
measuring the environmental impacts in LCA. SimaPro comes with
a large number of standard impact assessment methods. The
impact assessment methods are as follow: Eco-indicator99, Ecoindicator 95, CML 92, CML2 Baseline (2000), EDIP/UMIP, EPS
2000, Ecopoints 97, Impact 2002+, TRAC, EPD method, cumulative
energy demand and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) greenhouse gas emission. Each method contains a
number (usually 10 to 20) of impact categories. The Centre of
Environmental Science, Leiden University, NL, 2000 (CML2Baseline 2000) method was chosen because this method
elaborates the problem oriented (mid-point level). The CML guide
provides a list of impact assessment categories grouped into:
Obligatory impact categories, additional impact categories and
other impact categories (SimaPro7 manuals, 2006).
In this study, CML2 Baseline 2000 method was used for LCIA
(SimaPro7 manuals, 2006). The CML2 Baseline 2000 provides ten
types of impact categories with its unit as follows: A biotic depletion
(Kg Sb eq), acidification (kg SO2 eq), eutrophication (Kg PO4---eq),
global warming (kg CO2 eq), ozone layer depletion (kg CFC-11eq),
human toxicity (kg 1,4-DBeq), fresh water aquatic eco toxicity (kg
1,4-DBeq), marine aquatic eco toxicity (kg 1,4-DBeq), terrestrial eco
toxicity (kg 1,4-DBeq) and photochemical oxidation (kg C2H4). The
emissions inventory data are in terms of the mass released into the
environment such as 1 kg per functional unit, it also means the
impact of a unit mass (1 kg) of an emission to the environment
(Pennington et al., 2004).
Life cycle assessment (LCA)
LCA is the assessment of the environmental impacts of a given
product or process throughout its lifespan (Curran, 2006). LCA has
its roots in the 1960s, when scientists concerned about the rapid
In the LCA study, the following assumptions were made: There
were no wastes or emissions to air and water nor by-products
during paper production process because lack of data.
Afr. J. Biotechnol.
Table 1. Impact value for each type of impact during paper production process
(SimaPro 7 Manuals, 2006).
Impact category
A biotic depletion
Global worming
Ozone layer depletion
Human toxicity
Fresh water aquatic toxicity
Marine aquatic toxicity
Terrestrial eco toxicity
Photochemical oxidation
Life cycle Inventory
Data from paper making process in Iran
All the data in SimaPro are structured in such a way that
the practitioner can recognize between data that is
relevant to the particular LCA project and data that can
be useful in other projects. There are a number of libraries in SimaPro software with all kinds of data regarding
used materials, production process, transport, energy
and disposal processes (Goedkoop et al., 2003).
In LCA, there are two kinds of data which are as
follows: Background and foreground data. Background
data is all data that can be provided from literature
review, country reference or other database. These data
are collected from second source. Foreground data is
data from primary sources such as questionnaire, site
visit, interview etc. In this study the background data
used was from SimaPro 7 software and foreground data
collected from the Pars Paper Factory (Table 2).
Kg Sb eq
Kg SO2 eq
Kg PO4--- eq
Kg CO2 eq
Kg CFC eq
Kg 1,4-DB eq
Kg 1,4-DB eq
Kg1,4-DB eq
Kg1,4-DB eq
Kg C2H4
(OBA), chlorine (Cl), clay, corn starch and resin.
Abiotic depletion, acidification and eutrophication
contribute 17.82 kg Sbeq, 3.43 kg SO2eq and 0.71 kg
PO4- eq, respectively, to each category of impact (Figure
7). For global warming, paper production process gives
negative value, -729.81 kg CO2eq, which means benefit
to the environment. Ozone layer depletion and human
toxicity on the other hand give the impact values of
0.00015 kg CFC-11eq and 242.14 kg1, 4-DB eq,
respectively. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC-11 and CFC-12)
act as a GHG in the troposphere but also damage the
ozone layer in the stratosphere. The study shows that,
man-made chemicals can cause ozone layer depletion
(Weigard, 2001). However, all inputs contribute 57.31kg
1, 4-DB eq to fresh water eco toxicity, marine aquatic eco
toxicity by amount 81472.26 kg 1, 4-DB eq and terrestrial
eco toxicity 7.34 kg 1, 4-DB eq to each category of
impact. For photochemical oxidation, all inputs give impact value at 0.37 kg C2H4 (Table 1). From the LCIA
results, assessment of paper making process showed
inputs that gives the lowest impact value to all types of
impact and its electricity except for global warming
Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA)
Global warming
CML2 Baseline 2000 was used to analyze the potential
environmental impact using Simapro 7.0 database
(SimaPro7 manuals, 2006). The graph is scaled to 100%
per impact category in order to allow the description of
widely dispersed values per impact category in one
diagram (Figure 5). Colour difference of the graph is
representing the different types of input. The negative
value of the impact means benefit to the environment.
The impact value for each impact was contributed from
inputs that were used during the paper making process.
In this factory, there were 12 types of inputs involved in
the process and had been analyzed. They were bagasse
(farmed tree 1), kraft (farmed tree 2), electricity, heavy
fuel oil (Mazut), water, sodium hydroxide (NaOH), aluminum sulphate (Al2(SO4)3), optical brightness agent
The total impact of global warming is -729.81 kg CO2 eq.
For global warming impact, farmed tree 1 (bagasse) gave
the lowest impact (negative impact) value with amount of
-951.414 kg CO2 eq from all types of input (Figure 6).
Negative impact means environmental benefits.
Electricity and bagasse contribute lowest impact value
because both of these inputs were using renewable
sources. Electricity is using hydroelectric sources, whereas, bagasse is a by-product of sugarcane factory. The
consumption of renewable sources will reduce environmental degradation (Fress et al., 2005). According to
Ekvall (1999), using agricultural crops in paper production
has added advantage rather than wood. The consumption of bagasse as raw material for paper production
Poopak and Agamuthu
Table 2. Input from paper production process in Pars Paper Factory.
Bagasse kraft
Electricity from river mazut
Water from river
Sodium hydroxide, NaOH; aluminum sulphate, Al2(SO4)3;
optical brightness agent, OBA; chlorine, Cl
Clay, corn starch and resin
Raw material Improve the pulp
Steam, cutting
All the chemical are used for
Improve quality of paper
Extraction of raw material for
paper production
transport raw
Manufacturing of each
material/chemical that use to
produce paper
transport material
/chemical to factory
Paper Production Process
transport paper to
Paper used by consumer
transport raw
material to
Transportation: transport
paper waste to recycle center
Paper disposal
Land fill
Figure 4. Life cycle of paper and system boundary of this study (dotted line).
Afr. J. Biotechnol.
Figure 5. Impact of paper production process from all inputs for producing of one metric tonne of paper
for one year.
(instead of virgin wood) may result in reduced deforestation and at the same time increased CO2 absorption
and has the potential to reduce global warming effect.
Mazut on the other hand, gives higher impact value to
global warming with 25% from the total impact value.
Normally in fuels, the amount of carbon per unit energy
content varies significantly by fuel types. This means coal
contains the highest amount of carbon per unit of energy,
so it emits more greenhouse gases than the other fossil
fuels. Burning fossil fuels can release 6.2 (GtC) into the
atmosphere each year (Wiegard, 2001). So, using mazut
as source of energy because of the high density of
mazut, can contribute to global warming. Changing the
land use like deforestation, can result in increased
emission of carbon into atmosphere. During making kraft,
forest will be cleared and deforestation will happen and it
can affect global warming (Wiegard, 2001). However,
using bagasse as raw material can avoid deforestation,
which is the positive point of using bagasse.
Abiotic depletion, acidification and eutrophication
In abiotic depletion, acidification and eutrophication, mazut gives the highest impact for these impact categories
and it was followed by kraft. For other impacts, kraft gave
higher impact value for acidification (30%), eutrophication
(44%) and toxicity (42%) whereas, chlorine and bagasse
gave higher impact value with 62 and 71% for ozone
layer depletion and photochemical oxidation, respectively, as shown in Figures 7 and 8.
Acidic gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides
(released during the burning of fossil fuels) contribute to
the acidification of the soil and fresh water ecosystem.
The category indicator for acidification was measured in
kilograms of sulfur dioxide equivalent (KgSO2 eq).
Poopak and Agamuthu
Figure 6. Input values in percentage for global warming impact for producing of one metric tonne of paper for one year.
Weigard (2001) indicated that, N2O is produced naturally
through human activities such as the burning of fossil
fuels, deforestation, land-use changes and some industrial processes.
The enrichment of soil and water by nutrients is
measured by the eutrophication (EP) impact category. An
increased EP could lead to algal blooms in lakes with
reduction in sunlight penetration and other adverse consequences and similar undesirable effects on soil.
Release of nitrates and phosphates continuously to fresh
and marine water can cause increased nutrient buildup.
During the combustion of fossil, fuels and fuel production,
high NOx is produced (Eriksson et al., 2007; Ally and
Pryor, 2007). This can result in accumulation of nitrates,
phosphates and dissolved oxygen content (Gordon,
2003). Mazut and kraft contribute the highest impact for
Ozone layer depletion
Ozone layer depletion was measured as CFC-11
equivalent. Chlorine contributed the first major impact
(62%), Kraft was the second major contributor (16%)
while, NaOH was the third (14%). Others made up a
small range of impacts which was less than 5% each;
starch (4%), mazut (2%), aluminum sulphate (1%), OBA
(0.4%), bagasse (0.4%), resin (0.2%) and clay (0.01%).
The total impact value contributed by the paper
production process to ozone layer depletion was 0.00015
kg CFC-11 eq. Before the 1980s and early 1990s, free
chlorine was used to bleach paper; however, nowadays,
the use of free chlorine has ceased and chlorine-dioxide
or other means of bleaching such as ozone have taken
over (Villanueva and Wenzel, 2007). Chlorofluorocarbons
(CFC-11 and CFC-12) were first manufactured in the
1930’s but were not present in the atmosphere in any
appreciable quantity before 1950. Until the 1990’s, they
were widely used as propellants, refrigerants and
foaming agents. They act as a GHG in the troposphere
but also damage the ozone layer in the stratosphere. The
study shows that man-made chemicals can cause ozone
layer depletion (Weigard, 2001).
Photochemical oxidation
The impact value of each input for photochemical
oxidation is shown in Figure 8. Bagasse gave the highest
impact value in photochemical oxidation with 71%. Kraft
contributed 14%, aluminum sulphate and mazut 4%
each, while chlorine and resin contributed 2% each,
starch and NaOH 1% each. OBA, clay and electricity
were at the lower and of the range at 0.2, 0.008 and
Afr. J. Biotechnol.
Figure 7. Input values in percentage for acidification, abiotic depletion and eutrophication for producing of one metric tonne of
paper for one year.
Poopak and Agamuthu
Figure 8. Input values in percentage for human, freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecotoxicity for producing of one
metric tonne of paper for one year.
0.001%, respectively.
The toxicity impact was measured as 1, 4-dichlorobenzene equivalents per kg emission (Kg 1,4-DB eq). In
the CML2Baseline2000 method for LCIA, toxicity to
human environment, fresh water, marine and terrestrial
ecosystem was considered. The toxicity impacts of the
various materials or elements are shown in Figure 8.
From the total impact, kraft contributed the highest impact
of about 42%. Aluminum sulphate was in second place
with 26% followed by mazut (15%), chlorine (10%),
NaOH (4%), bagasse (1%), starch (1%), resin (1%), OBA
(0.2%), clay (0.02%) and electricity (0.0005%).
marine aquatic ecotoxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity were
combined during the discussion because they have the
same unit and are known as toxicity impact.
Assessment of inputs shows that, electricity gives the
lowest impact value to all types except global warming.
For global warming, bagasse gaves the lowest impact
value from all types of input. In contrast, mazut contributes highest impact value to abiotic depletion and
global warming with 85 and 25%, respectively, from the
total impact value. On the other hand, kraft gives highest
impact value to acidification (30%), eutrophication (44%)
and toxicity (42%).
For ozone layer depletion and photochemical oxidation,
chlorine and bagasse gives highest impact value with 62
and 71%, respectively.
From the paper making process, eleven inputs are recognized. They are bagasse, kraft, aluminum sulphate, OBA,
clay, corn starch, chlorine, resin, mazut, NaOH and
electricity. All the inputs were then assessed using
CML2Baseline2000 method. The assessment method
involves ten types of impacts: Abiotic depletion (17.82 Kg
Sb eq), acidification (3.43kg SO2 eq), eutrophication (0.71
Kg PO4---eq), global warming (-729.81 kg CO2 eq), ozone
layer depletion (0.00015 kg CFC-11 eq), human toxicity
(242.14 kg 1,4-DB eq), fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity
(57.31 kg 1,4-DB eq), marine aquatic ecotoxicity
(81472.26 kg 1,4-DB eq), terrestrial ecotoxicity (7.34 kg
1,4-DB eq) and photochemical oxidation (0.37 kg C2H4).
Impact of human toxicity, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity,
Based on the results, this study makes several recommendations as follow:
Replacing the mazut with any friendly source of
energy: Replacing mazut with nuclear energy, hydroelectricity or even using pith as source of energy for
paper making.
Replacing the chemical: Replacing chlorine with more
environmentally friendly material for bleaching.
Replacing paper recycling with the use of kraft: To
reduce the amount of impact kraft can contribute to the
environment or even try to use the ratio of paper
recycling and kraft instead of just using kraft.
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