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Product life cycle carbon footprinting

Connect, no. 153, March/April 2008, p.3

The present moves within the EU and globally to legislate for compulsory carbon emission reductions will require that businesses understand the environmental impacts of their operations. This is the crucial first step towards implementing effective and cost effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

A TWI Industrial Member Company in the construction and engineering sector, approached TWI for assistance in establishing an emissions value for the production stage in the life-cycle of one of its products.

TWI developed a protocol based on best practice for a product level (or bottom-up) emissions calculation; an approach validated by a range of established consultancies in this field. It was noted that the majority of businesses tackle the question of carbon emissions from their operations with a top-down approach. This is a more convenient method for obtaining a total business-wide figure, but is of little use in identification of major sources of carbon emissions within processes and therefore is of less value.

A bottom-up carbon footprinting activity is clearly a major undertaking, and it was decided that it must be tackled in discrete work-packages. TWI worked with the Member Company and agreed on a protocol which assessed the within-plant emissions value for the fabrication and assembly of a specific mechanical product. The constraints resulted in a 'dock-to-dock' value for the carbon emissions generated in the production of a single production unit within the production plant. The same principles may be applied within the product's supply chain, and the full picture of its carbon emission value may be built up accordingly.

This information enabled the Member Company to ensure its product development and manufacturing improvement programmes addressed the environmental impact of its business operations, and just as importantly, enabled them to identify potential cost saving opportunities.

TWI's protocol can be adjusted to suit any type or size of manufacturing business, and appropriate constraint boundaries applied to deliver results within realistic time frames.

For more information, please contact us.

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