Main content area

Carbon handprint – An approach to assess the positive climate impacts of products demonstrated via renewable diesel case

Grönman, Kaisa, Pajula, Tiina, Sillman, Jani, Leino, Maija, Vatanen, Saija, Kasurinen, Heli, Soininen, Asta, Soukka, Risto
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.206 pp. 1059-1072
carbon, carbon footprint, case studies, climate, consumers (people), decision making, environmental impact, fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, guidelines, life cycle assessment, marketing
The capacity to calculate and communicate the beneficial environmental impact of products and services is lacking in scientific guidelines. To fill this gap, this article presents a new approach for calculating the carbon handprint of products. The core of the suggested approach involves comparing the carbon footprint of an improved product with the carbon footprint of the baseline product, and subsequently calculating the reduction in greenhouse gas emission that can be achieved by utilizing the improved product. The proposed approach is founded on the standardized life cycle assessment methodology for footprints until the use stage, and it provides a framework to recognize the effects of the remaining life cycle stages in the actual operational environment. This calculation is meant to be used by manufacturers that wish to show potential customers the positive climate impacts offered by the manufacturer's product. The carbon handprint approach complements the existing methodologies by introducing new definitions and consistent guidelines for comparing the baseline product and the improved product.This article presents the developed calculation approach and demonstrates the approach with one case study about renewable diesel. Results of the diesel handprint calculation indicate that a driver can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing renewable diesel over baseline fuel. Thus, the producer of the renewable diesel will create a handprint.Organizations can use carbon handprints for quantifying the greenhouse gas reductions their customers can achieve by utilizing the product. Thus, the carbon handprint can be a powerful tool in communications and marketing. By conducting carbon handprint assessments, a company can also find out how their product qualifies in comparison to baseline products. Therefore, carbon handprints can also support decision-making and lifelong product design.