Sugarcane bagasse is one of the main agro-industrial residues which can be used to produce wood-based panels. However, more investigations related to its environmental performance assessment are needed, focusing on questions such as: Does it provide environmental benefits? What are its main environmental impacts? Could it substitute wood as raw material? Accordingly, this paper presents a life cycle assessment (LCA) study of particle board manufactured with sugarcane bagasse residues.The cradle-to-gate assessment of 1 m3 of particle board made with sugarcane bagasse (PSB) considered three main subsystems: bagasse generation, bagasse distribution, and PSB production. For the inventory of PSB, dataset from two previous LCA studies related to the conventional particle board production and the ethanol life cycle for the Brazilian context were used. The allocation criterion for the bagasse generation subsystem was 9.08 % (economic base). The potential environmental impact phase was assessed by applying the CML and USEtox methods. PSB was compared with the conventional particle board manufactured in Brazil by the categories of the CML and USETox, and including land use indicators. Finally, two scenarios were analyzed to evaluate the influence of the allocation criteria and the consumption of sugarcane bagasse.All hotspots identified by CML and USETox methods are mainly related to the PSB production subsystem (24–100 % of impacts) due to heavy fuel oil, electricity, and urea-formaldehyde resin supply chain. The bagasse generation subsystem was more relevant to the eutrophication category (75 % of impacts). The bagasse distribution subsystem was not relevant because the impacts on all categories were lower than 1 %. PSB can substitute the conventional particle board mainly because of its lower contribution to abiotic depletion and ecotoxicity. Regarding land use impacts, PSB showed lower values according to all indicators (38–40 % of all impacts), which is explained by the lower demand for land occupation in comparison to that of the traditional particle board.PSB can replace the traditional particle board due to its better environmental performance. The analysis of the economic allocation criterion was relevant only for the EP category, being important to reduce diesel and N-based fertilizers use during sugarcane cultivation. Regarding the influence of the sugarcane bagasse consumption, it is suggested that the sugarcane bagasse be mixed up to 75 % during particle board manufacturing so that good quality properties and environmental performance of panels can be provided.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2014, Vol 19, Issue 10, p. 1767-1778