Business Standard

A COMMERCIAL FEATURE

What's this ?

Commercial Feature is a Business Standard Digital Marketing Initiative.

The Editorial/Content team at Business Standard has not contributed to writing or editing these articles.

For further information, please write to assist@bsmail.in

Are there better ways to compute carbon footprint?

Calculating carbon footprint can be a tricky exercise. But, there are number of methods, which can offer better insights into it.

Dr Mosongo Moukwa  |  Mumbai 

Carbon footprint image via Shutterstock.

You have probably heard how such-and-such company has cut its by, say, 15% in the past three years. But, what is means? Global climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. With global warming dominating so many headlines today, it is no surprise that many companies are looking to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases their activities produce. (GHGs) emissions are generally calculated as measures the total emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, an organisation, or a product. It is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
 
Carbon footprint
is calculated by considering the amount of emitted/removed or embodied in the life cycle of a product. Life cycle includes all stages involved in the manufacture of a product right from bringing raw materials to final packaging, distribution, use, and to disposal. Life cycle assessment (LCA) produces a complete picture of inputs and outputs with respect to generation of air pollutants, water use and wastewater generation, energy consumption, GHGs emitted, or any other similar parameter of interest and cost–benefit initiatives.
 
Many companies in a variety of industries do not account for the entire supply chain that results in final goods and services, thus overlooking up to 75 percent of the emissions involved. Many factories assess only carbon dioxide released directly and not from materials processing or production of parts done by suppliers, which contributes significantly to the ultimate footprints. However, downstream industries such as paints and coatings generally take into account gas emission from raw materials and paint manufacturing.

ALSO READ: Six barriers to implementation of green chemistry in India
 
The payoff for broadening the analysis is that companies will find new cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. By looking beyond their own walls, businesses will uncover more ways to reduce the burden of looming carbon taxation and high fuel prices. Identifying more energy-conscious manufacturers, for example, could reduce emissions for retailers more dramatically than simply decreasing electricity use in stores.

Life cycle methodologies
Some of the well-known and widely used life cycle analysis methods are: 

  1. Cradle-to-grave: It is the full Life Cycle Assessment from resource extraction ('cradle') to use phase and disposal phase ('grave'). It involves during raw material extraction/production, their transportation and storage, paint production, transportation to end user, its use and disposal.
  2.  Cradle-to-gate: It is an assessment of a partial product life cycle from resource extraction ('cradle') to the factory gate (ie, before it is transported to the consumer). The use phase and disposal phase of the product are omitted in this case.
  3.  Cradle-to-cradle: It is a specific kind of cradle-to-grave assessment, where the end-of-life disposal step for the product is a recycling process. It is a method used to minimize the environmental impact of products by employing sustainable production, operation, and disposal practices and aims to incorporate social responsibility into product development.
  4.  Gate-to-gate: It is a partial LCA looking at only one value-added process in the entire production chain. Gate-to-gate modules may also later be linked in their appropriate production chain to form a complete cradle-to-gate evaluation. 
Challenges of the exercise
Dr Mosongo Moukwa
First of all, primary and secondary processes involved in the life cycle of the product need to be defined and mapped out. It will go from raw materials to manufacture, distribution and disposal. For each stage, energy flows and inherent is added through materials. They are converted into CO2 equivalents using emission conversion factors available in literature and which are country specific.
 
Dealing with raw materials is the most difficult part of the carbon footprinting exercise. There are some databases such as ‘ecoinvent’ and ‘Plastics Europe” databases which give readymade value for number of chemicals. Others have to be collected from raw material suppliers. CO2e emissions associated with the release of solvents shall also be used. Data relating to energy consumption and wastes from production have to be collected. Packaging data are generally collected from the supplier of packaging materials, carbon foot printing varying depending upon the recycled content of the packaging materials. Collection of waste management data is another difficult task, since there are no databases available unlike some for raw materials.
 
Once the complete data on carbon footprints of raw materials and energy consumption data of different processes are available, emission conversion factors are used to convert the energy data to CO2e and finally the of a product is calculated. 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
The author is an Independent Consultant based in Chapel Hill, NC, USA, and was recently Vice President - Technology at Asian Paints Ltd, Mumbai, India. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and Product Development Management Association. Email: mosongo@mosongomoukwa.com

First Published: Mon, January 13 2014. 18:33 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Are there better ways to compute carbon footprint?

Calculating carbon footprint can be a tricky exercise. But, there are number of methods, which can offer better insights into it.

Calculating carbon footprint can be a tricky exercise. But, there are number of methods, which can offer better insights into it. You have probably heard how such-and-such company has cut its by, say, 15% in the past three years. But, what is means? Global climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. With global warming dominating so many headlines today, it is no surprise that many companies are looking to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases their activities produce. (GHGs) emissions are generally calculated as measures the total emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, an organisation, or a product. It is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
 
Carbon footprint
is calculated by considering the amount of emitted/removed or embodied in the life cycle of a product. Life cycle includes all stages involved in the manufacture of a product right from bringing raw materials to final packaging, distribution, use, and to disposal. Life cycle assessment (LCA) produces a complete picture of inputs and outputs with respect to generation of air pollutants, water use and wastewater generation, energy consumption, GHGs emitted, or any other similar parameter of interest and cost–benefit initiatives.
 
Many companies in a variety of industries do not account for the entire supply chain that results in final goods and services, thus overlooking up to 75 percent of the emissions involved. Many factories assess only carbon dioxide released directly and not from materials processing or production of parts done by suppliers, which contributes significantly to the ultimate footprints. However, downstream industries such as paints and coatings generally take into account gas emission from raw materials and paint manufacturing.

ALSO READ: Six barriers to implementation of green chemistry in India
 
The payoff for broadening the analysis is that companies will find new cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. By looking beyond their own walls, businesses will uncover more ways to reduce the burden of looming carbon taxation and high fuel prices. Identifying more energy-conscious manufacturers, for example, could reduce emissions for retailers more dramatically than simply decreasing electricity use in stores.

Life cycle methodologies
Some of the well-known and widely used life cycle analysis methods are: 
  1. Cradle-to-grave: It is the full Life Cycle Assessment from resource extraction ('cradle') to use phase and disposal phase ('grave'). It involves during raw material extraction/production, their transportation and storage, paint production, transportation to end user, its use and disposal.
  2.  Cradle-to-gate: It is an assessment of a partial product life cycle from resource extraction ('cradle') to the factory gate (ie, before it is transported to the consumer). The use phase and disposal phase of the product are omitted in this case.
  3.  Cradle-to-cradle: It is a specific kind of cradle-to-grave assessment, where the end-of-life disposal step for the product is a recycling process. It is a method used to minimize the environmental impact of products by employing sustainable production, operation, and disposal practices and aims to incorporate social responsibility into product development.
  4.  Gate-to-gate: It is a partial LCA looking at only one value-added process in the entire production chain. Gate-to-gate modules may also later be linked in their appropriate production chain to form a complete cradle-to-gate evaluation. 
Challenges of the exercise
Dr Mosongo Moukwa
First of all, primary and secondary processes involved in the life cycle of the product need to be defined and mapped out. It will go from raw materials to manufacture, distribution and disposal. For each stage, energy flows and inherent is added through materials. They are converted into CO2 equivalents using emission conversion factors available in literature and which are country specific.
 
Dealing with raw materials is the most difficult part of the carbon footprinting exercise. There are some databases such as ‘ecoinvent’ and ‘Plastics Europe” databases which give readymade value for number of chemicals. Others have to be collected from raw material suppliers. CO2e emissions associated with the release of solvents shall also be used. Data relating to energy consumption and wastes from production have to be collected. Packaging data are generally collected from the supplier of packaging materials, carbon foot printing varying depending upon the recycled content of the packaging materials. Collection of waste management data is another difficult task, since there are no databases available unlike some for raw materials.
 
Once the complete data on carbon footprints of raw materials and energy consumption data of different processes are available, emission conversion factors are used to convert the energy data to CO2e and finally the of a product is calculated. 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
The author is an Independent Consultant based in Chapel Hill, NC, USA, and was recently Vice President - Technology at Asian Paints Ltd, Mumbai, India. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and Product Development Management Association. Email: mosongo@mosongomoukwa.com
image
Business Standard
177 22

Are there better ways to compute carbon footprint?

Calculating carbon footprint can be a tricky exercise. But, there are number of methods, which can offer better insights into it.

You have probably heard how such-and-such company has cut its by, say, 15% in the past three years. But, what is means? Global climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. With global warming dominating so many headlines today, it is no surprise that many companies are looking to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases their activities produce. (GHGs) emissions are generally calculated as measures the total emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, an organisation, or a product. It is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
 
Carbon footprint
is calculated by considering the amount of emitted/removed or embodied in the life cycle of a product. Life cycle includes all stages involved in the manufacture of a product right from bringing raw materials to final packaging, distribution, use, and to disposal. Life cycle assessment (LCA) produces a complete picture of inputs and outputs with respect to generation of air pollutants, water use and wastewater generation, energy consumption, GHGs emitted, or any other similar parameter of interest and cost–benefit initiatives.
 
Many companies in a variety of industries do not account for the entire supply chain that results in final goods and services, thus overlooking up to 75 percent of the emissions involved. Many factories assess only carbon dioxide released directly and not from materials processing or production of parts done by suppliers, which contributes significantly to the ultimate footprints. However, downstream industries such as paints and coatings generally take into account gas emission from raw materials and paint manufacturing.

ALSO READ: Six barriers to implementation of green chemistry in India
 
The payoff for broadening the analysis is that companies will find new cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. By looking beyond their own walls, businesses will uncover more ways to reduce the burden of looming carbon taxation and high fuel prices. Identifying more energy-conscious manufacturers, for example, could reduce emissions for retailers more dramatically than simply decreasing electricity use in stores.

Life cycle methodologies
Some of the well-known and widely used life cycle analysis methods are: 

  1. Cradle-to-grave: It is the full Life Cycle Assessment from resource extraction ('cradle') to use phase and disposal phase ('grave'). It involves during raw material extraction/production, their transportation and storage, paint production, transportation to end user, its use and disposal.
  2.  Cradle-to-gate: It is an assessment of a partial product life cycle from resource extraction ('cradle') to the factory gate (ie, before it is transported to the consumer). The use phase and disposal phase of the product are omitted in this case.
  3.  Cradle-to-cradle: It is a specific kind of cradle-to-grave assessment, where the end-of-life disposal step for the product is a recycling process. It is a method used to minimize the environmental impact of products by employing sustainable production, operation, and disposal practices and aims to incorporate social responsibility into product development.
  4.  Gate-to-gate: It is a partial LCA looking at only one value-added process in the entire production chain. Gate-to-gate modules may also later be linked in their appropriate production chain to form a complete cradle-to-gate evaluation. 
Challenges of the exercise
Dr Mosongo Moukwa
First of all, primary and secondary processes involved in the life cycle of the product need to be defined and mapped out. It will go from raw materials to manufacture, distribution and disposal. For each stage, energy flows and inherent is added through materials. They are converted into CO2 equivalents using emission conversion factors available in literature and which are country specific.
 
Dealing with raw materials is the most difficult part of the carbon footprinting exercise. There are some databases such as ‘ecoinvent’ and ‘Plastics Europe” databases which give readymade value for number of chemicals. Others have to be collected from raw material suppliers. CO2e emissions associated with the release of solvents shall also be used. Data relating to energy consumption and wastes from production have to be collected. Packaging data are generally collected from the supplier of packaging materials, carbon foot printing varying depending upon the recycled content of the packaging materials. Collection of waste management data is another difficult task, since there are no databases available unlike some for raw materials.
 
Once the complete data on carbon footprints of raw materials and energy consumption data of different processes are available, emission conversion factors are used to convert the energy data to CO2e and finally the of a product is calculated. 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
The author is an Independent Consultant based in Chapel Hill, NC, USA, and was recently Vice President - Technology at Asian Paints Ltd, Mumbai, India. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and Product Development Management Association. Email: mosongo@mosongomoukwa.com

image
Business Standard
177 22