Life cycle assessment of sisal fibre – Exploring how local practices can influence environmental performance

Martijn L M Broeren, Stijn N C Dellaert, Benjamin Cok, Martin K. Patel, Ernst Worrell, Li Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sisal fibre can potentially replace glass fibre in natural fibre composites. This study focuses on the environmental performance of sisal fibre production by quantifying the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use of producing sisal fibre in Tanzania and Brazil using life cycle assessment (LCA), based on region-specific inventory data. The results show that sisal fibre production has much lower GHG emissions (75–95%) and non-renewable energy use (85–95%) compared to glass fibre on a kg-basis, which is in line with published LCAs on natural fibres. Sisal fibre's GHG emissions are strongly influenced by potential methane emissions arising from the wet disposal of sisal leaf residues. Furthermore, because the direct energy and material requirements of sisal fibre production are low, its environmental performance is shown to vary strongly based on local practices such as residue disposal and fertiliser use, and is also sensitive to transportation distances. Several improvement options are explored to understand potential improvements in environmental sustainability. The most attractive option is limiting inadvertent methane emissions occurring at residue disposal sites, for instance by using them for the production of biogas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-827
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2017


  • Sisal fibre
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Methane


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