Product carbon footprint

Product Carbon Footprint

As global interest in sustainable development intensifies, companies across all industries are increasingly focusing on reducing their environmental impact. One key aspect of these efforts is understanding and managing the carbon footprint of products. This article provides a detailed guide on calculating a product’s carbon footprint, outlining the process and highlighting the main resources and partners that can assist in this endeavor. If readers are also interested in the mandatory greenhouse gas reporting under Russian law, they can refer to the provided link.

What is a Product Carbon Footprint?

A product’s carbon footprint represents the total greenhouse gas emissions (direct or indirect) throughout the product’s entire lifecycle. This includes emissions during raw material extraction, production, transportation, usage, and disposal. Calculating this footprint is essential for companies aiming to minimize their environmental impact and comply with regulatory requirements or sustainable development goals.

Step-by-Step Process for Calculating a Product’s Carbon Footprint

  • Choosing a Calculation Methodology:
    • Choose a standard: Select an established standard for calculating the carbon footprint. In the Russian Federation, the national standard GOST R ISO 14067-2021 “Greenhouse gases. Carbon footprint of products. Requirements and guidelines for quantification” is adopted. Other standards like the GHG Protocol or PAS 2050 may also be used.
  • Data Collection:
    • Collect data:
      • Identify product lifecycle stages: Determine which stages of the product lifecycle to include in the calculation (e.g., raw materials, production, transportation, usage, disposal).
      • Set boundaries: Decide whether to include direct emissions, indirect emissions (such as emissions from electricity consumption), and other relevant factors.
  • Performing the Calculation:
    • Calculate emissions: Use software tools and calculators that comply with the selected standards to ensure accuracy and consistency.
  • Analysis and Reporting:
    • Interpret results: Analyze the results to identify major sources of emissions and potential areas for reduction.
    • Reporting: Prepare a detailed report describing the methodology, data sources, assumptions, and results. Transparency is crucial for building trust.
  • Verification and Validation:
    • Independent verification: The report should be verified by an independent third party to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Who Can Help?

  • Consulting Companies:
    • Environmental consultants: Companies specializing in sustainable development and climate regulation can provide expertise and support at all stages of the process.
    • Examples: Deloitte, ERM (Environmental Resources Management), Carbon Trust.
  • Software Providers:
    • Carbon footprint calculators: There are numerous software tools that help automate and simplify the data collection and calculation process.
    • Examples: SimaPro, OpenLCA.
  • Industry Associations:
    • Guidance and support: Industry associations often provide recommendations, tools, and resources tailored to the needs of their members.
    • Examples: Sustainable Apparel Coalition for the textile industry, Responsible Business Alliance (RBA).
  • Certification bodies
    • Verification and certification: Organizations offering independent verification and certification to ensure the validity of carbon footprint statements.
    • Examples: SGS, Bureau Veritas, UL Environment.

Example of Product Carbon Footprint Calculation

RUSAL, one of the largest aluminum producers in the world, underwent international verification of the carbon footprint of its ALLOW INERTA aluminum, produced using inert anode technology. The verification conducted by TÜV AUSTRIA confirmed that the greenhouse gas emissions level during aluminum production is only 0.01 tons of CO2 equivalent per ton of metal. The calculation was performed considering direct and indirect energy emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) in accordance with the ISO 14067:2018 standard “Greenhouse gases – Carbon footprint of products – Requirements and guidelines for quantification.”


Calculating a product’s carbon footprint is a multi-step process that requires careful planning, precise data collection, and adherence to established methodologies. By following this guide and engaging consultants, software tools, industry associations, and certification bodies, companies can effectively measure and manage the environmental impact of their products. This not only helps reduce the carbon footprint but also enhances the company’s reputation and meets the growing demand for sustainable products.