8 min read

What is a Product Carbon Footprint?

What does a product carbon footprint mean and why is it important for product companies?
Written by
George Wade
Published on
January 4, 2023

We’re now in an era where all companies need to measure and understand where their carbon emissions come from. Companies who sell products may be asking, what is the emissions from the products we make? What are the biggest contributors to the carbon footprint of every pint of beer I make, for example. This is where a product carbon footprint can be extremely useful in understanding both your product's impact and where the biggest carbon hotspots are.

We're here to help. Let’s dig in to what a product footprint is and why it's important.

What is a Product Carbon Footprint and how do you calculate one?

A product carbon footprint is the emissions of a singular product or SKU for its full life cycle. This allows a company to see a breakdown of each product’s raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, storage, use and disposal emissions. This is measured in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per product or per kg product.

Illustration of a Product Footprint Standard methodology and what is included. Source: GHG Protocol.

Product footprints should be associated with a scope or boundary, the most common being:

  • Cradle-to-gate: mostly used for business-to-business (B2B) products. This measures the total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials through to product manufacture up to the factory gate.
  • Cradle-to-grave: mostly used for business-to-consumer (B2C) products. This measures the total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials through to the product’s manufacture, distribution, use and eventual disposal.

The easiest way is to think of it is a ‘recipe’ of emissions that make up the product. Below, you can see an example of DEYA’s cradle-to-grave product breakdown.

Product Carbon Footprint of DEYA brewing for 2021.

What is the difference between the corporate and product standard for carbon emissions?

The difference between a product and a corporate carbon footprint is what is and what isn’t included.

A corporate footprints covers everything in scope 1, 2 and 3 whereas a product footprint simply measures the footprint of the product itself. For example, a 500ml can of beer may have a footprint of 0.43kgCO2e but this does not include the machinery it takes to brew the beer, put the label on the can or the journey of the employee getting to work.

Why are product carbon footprints important?

Understanding both the carbon footprint or your entire organisation and of your products is incredibly important.

Not only does measuring your emissions allow you to identify hotspots and reduce your emissions over time but it also helps your customers get a more accurate understanding of their emissions and can become part of the sales and procurement process.

Let’s say for example, you’re a brewery looking to purchase your next hop contract, supplier A may have 0.5kgCO2e per kg of hops, whereas supplier B may have 0.8kgCO2e per kg. You may choose to go with the lower emission supplier. As more companies start measuring their product footprints it will make it easier to accurately calculate scope 3 emissions.

Want to know your product footprint of your beer?

Zevero are experts at calculating the carbon footprint of the brewing industry, get in touch to see where you match up on our emissions per HL brewed.

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