What is a Carbon Footprint and Why is it Important?
Your company’s carbon footprint is all of the greenhouse gas emissions made in a set period of time. It is not possible to pinpoint the exact total carbon footprint because carbon dioxide is produced naturally, but a company can measure the amount of carbon dioxide and methane that they produce within a specific area. This calculation is then expressed as a carbon dioxide equivalent.
Knowing your company’s carbon footprint is important because it shows how much you contribute to climate change and the greenhouse effect. The larger your footprint, the more detrimental your company’s activities are to the Earth. However, you can’t begin working on implementing changes without first knowing what your carbon footprint is and what you are doing that results in carbon dioxide emissions.
Once you have determined this, you can begin to look at different means to reduce your carbon footprint.
Understanding Carbon Footprint through the Product Life Cycle
One way of determining your carbon footprint is through life cycle analysis. This methodology looks at your company’s environmental impact through a product’s life cycle. It starts with raw materials and follows the product all the way through its end of life. It can be helpful for both reducing a product’s total environmental impact and comparing your company’s various products to see which has the highest and lowest impact.
The Life Cycle Assessment divides the life of a product into five stages:
• Raw material extraction and collection
• Production of the product
• Transportation of the product to resellers, customers, etc.
• Use of the product by consumers
• The end of the product’s life
While some of these stages have more impact on the environment than others, all of them are important.