With environmental consciousness at an all-time high, businesses and individuals alike are striving to understand and reduce their carbon footprints. One essential aspect of this endeavor is the Product Carbon Footprint (PCF). This article will introduce PCF, look into the standards that guide its calculation, explore verification processes, and shortly introduce tools to calculate carbon footprints. We will also take a brief look at specific industry standards like Catena-X and TfS (Together for Sustainability).
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.
Industry-Specific Standards: Catena-X and TfS
As industries become more conscious about their environmental impact, some have developed their own sustainability standards and PCF guidelines. The automotive industry, for instance, launched Catena-X, a network aimed at creating uniform standards for data exchange across the entire automotive value chain. The initiative could help track PCFs across complex automotive supply chains.
TfS (Together for Sustainability), on the other hand, is an initiative from the chemical industry. It seeks to improve sustainability practices within supply chains by providing tools and assessments, including those related to GHG emissions. This could enable chemical companies to better understand and reduce the PCFs of their products.
Understanding and reducing a product’s carbon footprint is a key aspect of future corporate climate strategies, hereby tools can significantly assist. Moreover, industry-specific initiatives like Catena-X and TfS highlight how sectors can collaborate to reduce their collective environmental impact. Through these efforts, businesses can make a significant contribution to the global goal of limiting climate change.
Support by DFGE
At DFGE, we support you throughout the entire product carbon footprint calculation. We take into account upstream and downstream processes, including manufacturing, transport emissions, production and distribution as well as waste disposal. With our top-down approach, we can provide an emissions balance for your product within a short period of time that complies with international standards such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and withstands third-party audits. This allows you to communicate a scientifically sound sustainability management and optimize your CSR strategy. If you have any further questions, please contact us at or by phone at +49 8192-99733-20.