Standard to calculate a product's carbon footprint is released

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Carbon footprint Carbon dioxide

A standard that allows companies to asses the carbon footprint of products and services throughout their life cycle has been released by the Carbon Trust, Defra and BSI British Standards.

The UK-based company the Carbon Trust has been piloting the standard for some time with over 75 product ranges from a number of companies.

The standard, called PAS 2050, is now publicly available as a BSI British Standard.

Consistent method to calculate emissions

It has been designed to provide companies with a consistent method of calculating the carbon emissions involved in a product or service throughout its life cycle – from raw material sourcing to product disposal.

Companies can identify the stages in the product’s life cycle that are responsible for the biggest emissions, and work to reduce them.

“PAS 2050 has been developed using BSI’s rigorous consultation process, involving almost a thousand industry experts from within the UK and internationally. The result is a robust framework within which businesses and public sector bodies will be able to asses the greenhouse gas emissions of their goods and services in a consistent manner,”​ said BSI British Standards director Mike Low.

The Carbon Trust’s Carbon Reduction label remains a choice for individual companies who wish to communicate the results of the investigation into, and reduction of, carbon emissions to their consumers.

According to The Carbon Trust’s Hervé Humbert, who presented the standard at the Natural Beauty Summit in Paris earlier this month, products and services account for more than half of a consumer’s individual carbon footprint. Therefore, reducing the carbon load of products and services provides a huge opportunity to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the population, he explained.

Financial benefits

Not only will such reductions benefit the environment, they can also have a positive financial impact on companies, he said.

Commenting on the standard, UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn similarly highlighted the positive financial benefit the program may have on companies.

“Companies have said they want to be able to count their carbon emissions in a better way, so we have responded. By looking at where the emissions are being reacted and reducing them, businesses can also save themselves money,” ​Benn said.

Cosmetics and beauty retailer and manufacturer Boots has been working with the Carbon Trust since 2003 and according to the Trust’s report has identified cost saving opportunities of over ₤1m (€1.3m) and reduced carbon emissions by over 10,000 tonnes.

Boots has been concentrating on its Botanics range of shampoos and, not including the consumer use phase, identified raw materials and distribution as the most emission heavy phases.

It then redesigned its logistics network allowing products to be shipped directly to stores. This eliminated the need for much of the packaging used to protect products whilst they wait in distribution centres and reduced road miles, reducing the carbon footprint of the products by 10 percent.

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