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Cradle-to-Gate Water Footprint Analysis of Borealis Group Polyolefin Value Chain
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Ecology.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Freshwater is an indispensable resource to both ecosystems and human well-being. It does not, however, seem to be sufficiently considered by the so far established environmental systems analysis tools. The recently developed methodology of Water Footprint (WF) has been of considerable industrial interest as a sustainability indicator, especially in the agro-food sector. The current work was a first WF attempt in the petrochemical field. The Borealis Group polyolefin chain, consisting of 11 production sites globally, was in a cradle-to-gate focus for this study. The annual direct business WF was 17,9 million m3 while the indirect was estimated at 39,1 million m3. The direct component of the footprint is related to all the operational consumptive water uses and treated wastewater that is not returned to the abstraction system; the indirect comprises the virtual water content of the supplied to the plants feedstock as well as the WF stemming from the supply of the electricity the operations require. At a polyethylene (PE)/polypropylene (PP) level, the analysis showed that each ton of PE sent downstream to converters has a weighted average WF of 13,7 m3; the respective figure for PP is 13,1 m3. Methodological challenges of the particular project and the tool in general, included supply-chain data availability, grey water estimation and impact assessment. It is expected that as the interest in freshwater as a vital and stressed resource further solidifies and more WF analyses are exercised, a polished and standardized methodology that relates the enhanced WF accounting to a comprehensive impact assessment will be developed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 57 p.
Trita-IM, ISSN 1402-7615 ; 2009:20
Keyword [en]
Water footprint, cradle-to-gate, polyolefin value chain, PE, PP
National Category
Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-33340OAI: diva2:414534
External cooperation
Borealis Group
Subject / course
Industrial Ecology
Educational program
Master of Science - Sustainable Technology

Available from: 2011-05-03 Created: 2011-05-03 Last updated: 2012-10-30Bibliographically approved

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