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April 12, 2024

Why carbon footprints matter for your business

Many businesses want to understand the impact they are having on climate change. Calculating a carbon footprint – also known as carbon footprinting – is an essential starting point. A carbon footprint measures the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, organisation, event or product. It will help you understand what your key emission sources are, and what opportunities you have to reduce them.

It will give you an initial benchmark against which to measure your progress, and provide the opportunity to develop a carbon reduction plan. Understanding your carbon footprint will also help identify opportunities to make savings, such as energy. Companies that manage their carbon emissions responsibly can enhance their brand value, and make themselves more attractive to potential customers and investors. They can also use the information to manage long-term business risk

What is a Product Carbon Footprint (PCF):

A Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) refers to the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused during a product’s life-cycle, from raw material extraction and pre-processing, manufacturing, distribution, to usage and disposal. It is typically measured in CO2 equivalents, which allow different types of GHGs to be compared on a common basis. PCFs help companies to understand the environmental impact of their products, enabling them to focus on the most significant sources of emissions, reduce these emissions, and ultimately create more sustainable products and business models.

Standards & Verification:

Several standards guide the calculation of a PCF. These include the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard, the British Standards Institution’s PAS 2050, and the ISO 14067:2018 standard. These standards provide a consistent framework for quantifying and reporting GHG emissions associated with specific products. They ensure that the measurement, monitoring, and reporting of PCFs are accurate, reliable, and comparable across different products and sectors.

Verification plays a crucial role in ensuring the credibility and accuracy of PCF calculations. Third-party verification is often conducted by accredited bodies that evaluate whether a company’s reported PCF complies with relevant standards. By undergoing verification, companies can ensure their PCF calculations are correct and their reduction efforts are effective. It also enhances their transparency and accountability, improving their reputation with consumers, investors, and other stakeholders. Important sustainability ratings like CDP value this topic increasingly and a stronger focus on third-party verification can be noticed.

Tools to Calculate Carbon Footprint:

Several tools can help calculate a PCF, ranging from basic online calculators to sophisticated Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) software. These include e.g., the GHG Protocol’s suite of calculation tools, Carbon Footprint’s business carbon calculator, and software such as SimaPro or GaBi. Looking at the rising demand for helpful PCF tools, DFGE has developed a web-based solution to calculate a cradle-to-gate PCF. The DFGE PCF Engine is easy to use, customers can calculate multiple PCFs and analyse the respective emission hotspots after a short introductional training.

Image: DOW is calculating its product carbon footprint as a core sustainability strategy. Learn more.

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