Product Carbon Footprint Verification

Product Carbon Footprint Verification

In response to the need for transparency in the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of products, several standards have been developed or are currently under development. There are three main Product Carbon Footprint standards that are or will be implemented worldwide: PAS 2050, GHG Protocol and ISO 14067.

  • PAS 2050, PAS, was first published by the British Standards Institute in 2008 and was revised in 2011 to provide an internationally consistent method for measuring the CO 2 balance of products and services. PAS 2050 is implemented by many companies around the world.
  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol product standard The greenhouse gas protocol was based on the initial PAS 2050 method in the development of the product standard. Developed by WRI / WBCSD and tested by 60 companies in 2010. It was published in 2011 and includes requirements for quantification and public reporting of greenhouse gas inventories of products.
  • ISO 14067 is probably the most commonly used standard for establishing a Product Carbon Footprint. It is constantly being worked on. ISO 14067 defines equilibrium limits at which climate change is considered a stand-alone impact category. This standard applies broadly to all products and is intended to encourage the transparent communication of results.

All three standards provide requirements and guidelines for decisions to be made when undertaking a carbon footprint study. Decisions include LCA issues such as goal and scope definition, data collection strategies, and reporting. In addition, these standards provide requirements on specific carbon footprint-related issues, including land use change, carbon uptake, biogenic carbon emissions, soil carbon exchange and green electricity.

All three standards are based on existing lifecycle assessment methods established through ISO 14040 and ISO 14044. However, there are minor differences between the standards. BSI, WRI/WBCSD, and ISO have collaborated to increase compliance of standards. ISO 14067 is considered a more general standard, although some requirements, such as requirements for green electricity use, are quite specific. PAS 2050 and the GHG Protocol provide more detailed requirements and guidance with less room for interpretation. In October 2011, the PAS2050 was updated and is now more compatible with the GHG protocol. In addition, the Sustainability Consortium and Consumer Goods Forum adopted the GHG protocol as the basis for data collection.

Product Carbon Footprint standards guide companies conducting PCF studies and also support the reliability of Carbon Footprint measurements in the market, useful for application purposes. However, the existence of three standards can be confusing for companies when they start calculating their carbon footprint.

In addition, numerous other initiatives have been initiated by public or private organizations at the regional and local levels. Some of these initiatives focus solely on GHG emissions, while others include other environmental impacts. The Japanese government established the Carbon Footprint Program in 2008 and launched the Labeling Pilot Project in April 2009. France has launched the BP X30-323 and has a 1-year trial phase as of July 2011. The European Commission is currently developing and testing an environment. Footprint methodology in a pilot test from July 2011 to February 2012. In the overview below, you see a chronological overview of end-product carbon footprint initiatives and initiatives that include greenhouse gas emissions in a broader context.


On the way to sustainability, the growing interest in the carbon footprint of products and efforts to streamline carbon footprint analysis are welcome. However, the large number of standards and initiatives can be overwhelming and confusing for companies. This raises the question: Which standard to choose? How can a company decide which carbon footprint standard best supports its sustainability strategy? And should a company focus on only one standard or be flexible?

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