As a conscious brand, it is important how you communicate your sustainability efforts with your customers. From the production and manufacturing stage to how much impact your products have in the product life cycle, conscious consumers often wonder how their purchase decisions impact the environment. Measuring and showcasing your product and brand’s carbon footprint is one way of effectively communicating your environmental efforts with your customers.
Here are our brief key pointers to consider when measuring the carbon footprint of your product.
Calculating the carbon footprint of a product takes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the product’s life cycle from raw materials to waste disposal. Following the GHG protocol developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), there are 3 main categories.
- Direct GHG emissions are released into the air directly including the waste management system and other industrial processes.
- Indirect GHG emissions are related to energy consumption that is the result of your company’s activities.
- Other GHG Indirect emissions include other emissions generated within the product life cycle outside of your company’s control
There are tools available for both businesses and consumers to track their carbon footprint. The 2030 Calculator provides methodology on how much carbon footprint a product produces and insights on how you can reduce it.
Different materials and manufacturing processes drastically make a difference in how much carbon footprint a product produces. For example, local sourcing not only helps boost the community’s economy or reduce transportation costs but also minimizes the transportation distance and processes to lower the carbon footprint of your product.
These are the factors to consider when calculating your carbon footprint at the sourcing and production stages:
- Number of different types of raw materials needed to produce final goods
- Amount of each raw material needed to produce final goods
- Sources of raw materials
- Transportation of the raw materials
Many consumer brands offer eco-friendly packaging such as biodegradable, recycled materials, or FSC-certified packaging. Recycled packaging creates less carbon footprint compared to paper packaging. Packaging can be considered a part of your product to deliver your finished goods to customers.
When calculating the carbon footprint of your packaging, consider these questions:
- Location of your supplier
- What is the packaging material made out of? (i.e. recycled, 3rd party certified, biodegradable, etc.)
- Size and weight of your packaging
Shipping your products to your customers creates a carbon footprint. It is inevitable; however, there are ways to minimize it.
Consider these factors when calculating your carbon footprint generated from shipping:
- How will it be delivered to your customers? (Direct, land, sea, air, etc.)
- Distance from your manufacturing site to the distribution center
- What is your shipping coverage? (Local, domestic, international, worldwide)
Many shipping companies offer eco-friendly options such as DHL’s PLT (paperless trade), FedEx’s EarthSmart, etc. To achieve carbon neutrality, you could purchase carbon offset credits to match the carbon footprint generated with the shipping to take one step further.
Other expected and unexpected emissions happen throughout the product life cycle. To communicate your sustainability initiatives with your customers, it is important to measure your product’s and business’ carbon footprint and present the metrics efficiently.