In recent years, the world has seen a rapid economic growth coinciding with an increasing population and increasing consumption. With an expanding middle class and more people lifted out of poverty, this trend can only be expected to continue. As a result, companies have begun taking action to provide consumers with more information about products and their history – to both help conscious consumers take better decisions, but also to enhance its company’s responsibility and set it apart from competitors. One emerging trend is ecolabelling products or services. This ranges from compliance labelling, emphasizing bio products or organic products to showcasing the product’s climate footprint. In fact, according to the Ecolabel Index, there are approximately 455 different ecolabels used around the world today.
A trend that is becoming more common in labelling is highlighting products as carbon neutral, climate neutral, carbon compensated or CO2 compensated. But it begs the question, what is a carbon neutral product? And how does a product merit this label?
A carbon neutral product is a product for which the full lifecycle emissions of the product are measured by internationally recognized methodology, has a robust emission reduction strategy and roadmap to mitigate its negative climate impact and finally whose emissions are offset by carbon credits.
But wait, how is this not greenwashing, preventing any real action? To answer this, we must elaborate on the process of designating a product as carbon neutral. At Strive, we are closely following the British Standard Institute PAS2060—a carbon management standard that specifies a consistent set of measures and requirements for demonstrating carbon neutrality.
There are certain key steps that must be followed in the process of demonstrating carbon neutrality for a specific product or product group. Once you have chosen a product or product group, it is necessary to conduct a lifecycle assessment (LCA) constituting a detailed mapping of the product’s or product group’s entire lifecycle emissions. Through this LCA and its analysis you will obtain great knowledge of your product, with a detailed mapping of all scope emissions. This is further required to implement emission reductions strategies in the next stage—as such, you will uncover potential emission hotspots for your product and implement adequate emission reduction strategies and have a detailed plan for mitigating emissions stemming from the product—taking real action. With a third-party assurance of the carbon footprint conducted of the LCA, an estimation of expected sales can be carried out. With this information in mind it is possible to offset the corresponding emissions that are estimated to occur from the product’s lifecycle. At Strive, you will receive a tailor made portfolio of offsetting projects suited to your preferences. Lastly, it is essential to reconciliate to verify the actual sales numbers compared to the estimated data, as well as anything else that has changed in the product’s life cycle in the past year. With a new year starting, this whole process will start over again.
As a result, companies that follow the process understand their product lifecycle footprints better, take clear and measurable steps to reduce the footprint and take a full responsibility over product’s footprint by offsetting all residual emissions that could not be mitigated yet. The carbon pricing aspect is important because the company then has a good financial motivation to reduce its products emissions year on year.
This is only a brief introduction to the topic of carbon neutral products. If this article was of interest to you or you would like to know more about this process, please feel free to contact us and set up a meeting here.