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ISO Working On New CO2 Footprint Standard

The international standards organisation (ISO) is presently working on the new standard ISO 14067 for the CO2 footprint of products in order to quantify and publish the greenhouse gas emissions of products and services as a worldwide standard.

In Vienna, Pro Carton President Roland Rex and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wimmer, Technical University, Vienna, and the co-convenor of the ISO 14067 working party, Dr. Klaus Radunsky, met to discuss developments on the upcoming CO2 footprint of products. Pro Carton is convinced that the new standard will help to position cartonboard even more as a sustainable material for packaging. The CO2 footprint of products determines the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions which can be attributed to a product during its entire lifecycle. A final document is expected by the middle of 2012.

 

A Product Carbon Footprint assessment quantifies the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other gases included in the Kyoto Protocol, caused by a product. The calculation relates to a standardised quantification and summary of greenhouse gas emissions across the entire life cycle. The existing ISO Standards for life cycle analysis (LCA) of product declarations and greenhouse gas emission calculations – ISO 14040/44, ISO 14025 and ISO 14065 – act as basis for this new standard.

 

It is important for organisations to minimise carbon footprints, as climate change represents a major challenge to society. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their purchasing decisions on the environment. Policy makers have established reduction goals, incentives and other mechanisms to expand GHG emission reduction efforts and to motivate companies to actively take action.

 

Leading international companies have expressed interest as they have recognised that markets are sensitive to new climate strategies and that the CO2 footprint of products will therefore become a selling argument. Companies have recognised that it can pay dividends to identify and reduce GHG emissions and other environmental impacts across their operations and the supply chain.

 

The timing is right, and it is opportune for cartonboard and carton manufacturers to commit to a strong focus on climatic change in this area of production, as this is increasingly turning into a competitive advantage. The CO2 carbon footprint approach can be a first step for companies to develop a more detailed understanding of the actual environmental impacts of their products and business operations along their supply chain.

 

An important technical topic relating to the calculation of the CO2 carbon footprint of products is the inclusion of two types of GHG emissions – those stemming from fossil carbon sources and those stemming from biogenic carbon sources. The draft for ISO 14067 defines that the amount of CO2 absorbed from biomass and its equivalent of CO2 emissions from this biomass will result in zero net emissions for biogenic carbon upon combustion (in as far as the biogenic carbon is not converted to methane). Therefore, it is recommended that fossil and biogenic carbon sources be determined separately as is proposed in the draft.

 

Not only are the calculations important, but also the way the results are presented to the consumer. Product carbon footprints carry the potential of being a good entry point for increasing consumer awareness and fostering discussions about the environmental impacts of products. Today, the unit of measure is carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 equivalents) per product or functional unit. The current draft of the ISO 14067 Standard foresees both complete and partial product carbon footprint communications, in the form of declarations, claims, labels, reports and performance tracking reports.

 

All members of Pro Carton are continuously working on improving their environmental performance. Between 2005 and 2008 alone, an overall improvement of 7 per cent was achieved – in the reduction of all emissions. The facts clearly show that fewer fossil fuels and more biomass were used in production. This led to a reduction in fossil resource consumption and a reduction in carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

 

Photo: Co-convenor of the ISO 14067 working party, Dr. Klaus Radunsky

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