What is a carbon footprint?
For a product, it is an estimate of it's climate change impact (greenhouse gas emissions). It takes the entire process into account, from the acquisition of raw materials, to manufacturing, distribution and use, right through to the disposal/recycling at the end of its life.
For an organisation, it is an estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions from all the activities across the organisation. This includes building energy use, industrial processes and company vehicles.
Why measure a product's carbon footprint?
It’s good for the environment. It could help you:
- Understand the environmental impact of the different stages of the life of a product.
- Put together a plan to reduce emissions, rather than just shift them from one part of the process to another.
- Develop low-carbon products, or improve the footprint of existing products, by evaluating the sensitivity of the carbon footprint to variations in materials/processes.
It’s also good for your business. It could help you:
- Identify cost-saving opportunities.
- Enhance your brand and demonstrate environmental and corporate responsibility.
- Create product differentiation.
- Meet consumer demand - committing to emissions reduction can help attract new business.
- Achieve compliance with environmental legislation.
What is voluntary carbon reporting?
Voluntary carbon reporting is extremely popular, with 96% of the FTSE-100 already reporting voluntarily to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in 2012. The CDP is modelled on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Many see voluntary carbon reporting as setting the pace, with mandatory carbon reporting lagging behind. This is because most companies were already voluntarily reporting emissions before new mandatory carbon reporting legislation for listed companies came in during 2014.
Where can I find out more about carbon footprinting?