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Carbon footprint

Competence

Carbon footprint describes the amount of greenhouse gas emissions of a product, organisation, or service. Determination of carbon footprint involves a life cycle assessment (LCA) study focusing on the greenhouse gas emissions created over the life span of a product, including raw material’s acquisition, production, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling, and final disposal.

Life cycle assessment is a widely used and accepted tool for identifying and managing environmental effects of products. At VTT, we apply LCA and conduct carbon footprint case studies in research projects and customer projects. Our customer sectors include the forest industry, the mineral and metal industry, discrete production, the chemical industry, building and construction, transport and logistics, the electronics industry, and the media sector.

Our researchers participate in development work for improved methods of carbon footprint evaluation, and our life cycle inventory (LCI) database includes up-to-date data for carbon footprint calculations. We are an official member of the body developing the international standard for carbon footprints (ISO 14067).

Solutions and tools

We work on and offer the following:

  • Determination of carbon balance and global warming potential that covers a product’s entire life cycle
  • Finding of ‘hot spots’ and critical life cycle phases in which emissions can be minimised or offset
  • Provision of a baseline against which progress can be measured
  • The possibility of comparison between products, technologies, product properties, or production processes
  • A scientific base for environment-related communication to stakeholders, customers, and consumers
  • Work on the standard addressing quantification and communication of carbon footprint, to be completed in 2103 (ISO 14067: Carbon footprint of products)

Challenges

Despite the existence of widely recognised carbon footprint guides, open questions remain in carbon footprinting. For example, carbon sequestration in forests and its relationship to products can be understood in various ways. Inclusion of biogenic carbon leads to different conclusions. More research and methodology development is required in this area.

References

A large customer base from diverse sectors, including Alma Media, Sanoma Oyj, Outokumpu, UPM, Myllykoski, M-Real, Botnia, Kemira, Verdera, Hirsitaloteollisuus ry, Mondi Oy, and CEWIC

Official participation in the ISO Carbon Footprint standardisation process

Several carbon-footprint-related projects, such as the LEADER project (2007–2010) studying carbon footprint and environmental impacts of print products

Seminars for various sectors of industry – for example, see the presentations at the Fibre Value seminar and webinar by VTT ForestTech from 17 April 2012 (seminar details)


Additional information

Tiina Pajula
Principal Scientist, Team Leader
+358 20 722 7480