We count the carbon footprint of a product

Contec is an environmentally conscious manufacturer of products from old tires, such as reclaimed carbon black and pyrolysis oil. By adhering to the circular economy policy, the company contributes to solving the global environmental problem of used tires. In the EU alone, more than 3 million tons of tires are recycled annually (ETRMA, 2018).

One of the reasons why Contec wanted us to calculate the carbon footprint of its flagship products was growing environmental awareness. The EU regulations currently in force focus more and more on reducing the emission of processes, and recyclers want to understand and reduce the carbon footprint of own products.

“As part of the circular economy model, Contec supports the transformation of the tire industry according to the concept of a circular economy. We do it by introducing sustainable products to the market with full transparency of the supply chain”, comments Klaudia Końska, R&D Specialist at Contec.

Each process of calculating the carbon footprint of a product is similar, based on the GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard, September 2011. World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. However, with each carbon footprint calculation project, we gain new insights and conclusions about the industry it affects.

Key takeaways

  • Old tires are the main raw material used by Contec to produce oil and pyrolysis carbon black. They are collected as waste, which means that they would otherwise be landfilled. Therefore, in the calculations of the carbon footprint of oil and pyrolytic carbon black, emissions caused by the transport of tires to the production plant had to be taken into account, but excluding emissions from the tire production. Due to the number of tires processed and the few other products that the company sourced for production purposes, emissions from tire transport represented the largest share of the carbon footprint of the Raw Material Sourcing and Preprocessing Cluster.
  • The final result of a product’s carbon footprint is strongly influenced by the emissions from electricity used during the production process. The client’s plant is powered by 100% renewable electricity (wind energy and solar panels). The supply of electricity is based on the green tariff and not on the purchase of guarantees of origin. This allows Contec to truly contribute to the development of renewable energy in Poland. If the production plant used the average Polish energy mix, the carbon footprint of the product (excluding delivery to the customer) would be 2.3 times higher.

Key emission scopes

Apart from the aspect of delivery, the carbon footprint of pyrolysis oil is the same in both cases. The differences in the final result come from the distance and type of transport used in the delivery of the product. For customer no. 2, it is more than three times greater. Therefore, in the second case, the carbon footprint of the pyrolysis oil increased by 77.41 kg of CO2e per 1 ton of substance.

percentage-of-emissions-oil-soot

Possibilities of reducing the carbon footprint of products

Calculating a product’s carbon footprint is never just an art for the sake of it. The Foundation always proposes mitigation measures in the production processes of our clients.

In summary of the project for Contec, we proposed the following options to reduce the carbon footprint of their products:

  • Further optimization of the energy efficiency of the process.
  • Reduction of media consumption within the company.
  • Using media with a lower carbon footprint in-house, such as forklifts powered by renewable energy instead of those powered by LPG.
  • Supply chain optimization: – choosing a greener means of transport, – selection of more local raw materials produced.
  • Use of raw materials with a lower carbon footprint: – produced using “green” energy, – manufactured from recycled materials, – produced with energy-saving means and/or at lower consumption of raw materials.
  • Choosing suppliers who calculate and reduce the carbon footprint of their products and materials.

With the above as prerequisites in tender processes and by signaling to subcontractors the need to provide data as early as the contract signing stage, Contec contributes to building the awareness of suppliers and subcontractors.


EXPERT’S PERSPECTIVE

Aleksandra Drewko-Climate Strategies Poland
Aleksandra Drewko, PhD
carbon footprint calculation and reduction expert

“This interesting project required callaboration with a company that was able to provide precise operational data from their plant. On the other hand, we have faced challenge of noninformation from raw materials producers with regard to carbon footprint of their merchandise. Unfortunately, there are still few companies that calculate the carbon footprint of their products. Please note that with no data on emissions (carbon footprint) of a raw material or product, companies that use them in their production processes are unable to precisely determine their impact on the carbon footprint of own products and make conscious decisions regarding cooperation with suppliers who introduce reduction measures.”


The challenges

The overriding goal of Orange Polska, as part of the #OrangeGoesGreen approach, is to achieve zero net carbon for the entire organization by 2040.* (*Net zero carbon – eliminating own direct and indirect emissions, as well as emissions in the entire value chain).

Stage 1:
– CO2 emission reduction by as much as 65% until 2025 compared to 2015; 

Mainly due to the increase of the share of renewable energy consumed by Orange Polska to min. 60%.

Orange requested Climate Strategies Poland to calculate the carbon footprint of their latest cell phone plan, Orange Flex.

The aim of the project was to determine:

  • How Orange Flex impacts the environment
  • What activities must be planned to fully compensate for this impact

Actions taken

The Orange Flex offer has been designed to be fully digital. The sales and onboarding process is done online, using a dedicated mobile app, so it can be more environmentally friendly:

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Paperless contracts and invoices

Less waste and saving of primary raw materials.

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Virtual eSIM card

It does not consume raw materials and does not generate emissions related to distribution.

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SIM card packaging made of raw materials from sustainable sources

The blister containing the SIM card has been reduced by half. This means cutting the amount of plastic by half.


The carbon footprint calculation process:

How did we calculate the carbon footprint for Orange Flex?

When calculating the carbon footprint, we took into account:

1. All telecommunications services included in Orange Flex plan, i.e. telephone calls, SMS/MMS, Internet (both in Poland and in roaming).

2. The process of distribution of the SIM card to the customer:

  • personal pick-up at the Orange Sales Service Point
  • own collection at third-party points
  • courier delivery

3. The process of downloading the Orange Flex application (along with its updates).

The carbon footprint of Orange Flex (telecommunications service, physical SIM card with delivery and downloading the application) is 3,273 kg of CO2e per user monthly.

Project scope

The carbon footprint included all direct and indirect emissions except those from exempt activities.

As a result of carbon footprint calculations and subsequent discussions, the vision of Orange Flex was born as the first climate-neutral telecommunications service in Poland.

Final product

  • Independent verification of Orange’s commitment to continuously reduce emissions.

Climate neutrality of Orange Flex:

the emission mitigation and compensation strategy in practice

Since young trees can absorb up to 7 tons of CO2 per year[1], Orange Flex partnered with the Foundation Las na Zawsze (Forest Forever) to plant 10,000 m2 of biodiverse and nature-managed forest in Kashubia, northern Poland, together with Orange Flex.

In addition, the operator also decided to offset greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing Gold Standard certificates.

The Orange Flex offer is provided using electricity generated from renewable energy sources, i.e., wind farms. The operator also plans to increase educational activities to encourage customers to engage in joint ecological activities with Orange.


EXPERT’S PERSPECTIVE

Aleksandra Drewko-Climate Strategies Poland
Aleksandra Drewko, PhD
carbon footprint calculation and reduction expert

“What is extremely important in calculating carbon footprint is to correctly select the functional unit. It reflects the amount or way in which a product, or a service are used the consumer and the related benefits. What is more, a correctly selected functional unit allows comparing the carbon footprint of a product with other product and services. Orange Poland had quality data on its Flex Offer, which made my work so much easier. Additionally, the project team was involved in verifying the project map that is critical for determining the boundaries for carbin footprint calculation.”


Sources:

[1] – https://www.gdansk.lasy.gov.pl/aktualnosci/-/asset_publisher/1M8a/content/rola-lasow-w-obiegu-wegla-w-przyrodzie; data dostępu: 31.05.2021


Millennium SA has been consciously undertaking environmental activities for years. Since 2011, the Bank Millennium Group has been reporting information on its environmental impact, including data on greenhouse gas emissions. For the bank, investigating and mitigating the emissions of its branches is of key importance. That is why it regularly introduces environmentally friendly solutions in its regional headquarters.

In 2021 year, a model ecological branch of the Bank Millennium SA was also opened. Climate Strategies Poland cooperated with the bank and focused on calculating the effect of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions after relocation and pro-environmental renovation of a branch.

The purpose

Bank Millennium engaged our Foundation mainly:

  • to precisely calculate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions following a relocation of one of the facilities, which has been refurbished using a variety of environmentally friendly solutions.

Organizational boundaries of the project

Calculating emission reduction included a single medium-sized branch of Bank Millennium SA in a new location.

What actions have been taken so far?

To reduce the consumption of utilities, the following solutions were introduced:

  • Lighting with motion detectors and light intensity sensors, to regulate the power depending on the amount of sunlight,
  • A+++ energy efficiency class air conditioning,
  • Energy-saving equipment for computer workstations,
  • Ventilation with heat recovery,
  • Dual flush toilets and gray water flush toilets,
  • Aerators in taps that can reduce water consumption (e.g., for washing hands) by up to 50%.

Ecological solutions used to furnish and decorate the new facility

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Paperless contracts and invoices

Less waste and saving of primary raw materials.

352567-256

Virtual eSIM card

It does not consume raw materials and does not generate emissions related to distribution.

4454723-256

SIM card packaging made of raw materials from sustainable sources

The blister containing the SIM card has been reduced by half. This means cutting the amount of plastic by half.


Project scope

The corporate carbon footprint reduction has been calculated for two separate types of activities:

1. Reduced consumption of utilities in the new facility,

2. Environmentally friendly furniture and fittings used in a new facility.

The carbon footprint considered in the project covered all direct and indirect emissions except emissions from exempt activities.

How was the carbon footprint calculated?

Project results

The choice of environmentally friendly solutions was deliberate at each stage of the finishing works in the new facility. Combined with reduced energy and other utilities consumption and the purchase of green electricity, this allowed for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70% per year. For a single branch of the bank, this means s a reduction by 39 tons of CO2 equivalent annually. This is how much 26 people would save annually by switching from driving a car to biking.

Final product

Cooperation with our Foundation guaranteed:

  • Independent verification of the bank’s participation in continuous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Detailed report that includes calculations of the emissivity of individual initiatives, as well as recommendations for possible further emission reductions.
  • Digital calculator to determine the carbon footprint for the investigated branch.
  • Carbon Footprint Calculation Certificate according to GHG Protocol, A Corporate and Reporting Standard, revised edition, March 2004. World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

PROJECT SUMMARY

Millennium Bank SA introduced a number of solutions in the new branch to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some of them were related to reducing the consumption of utilities (electricity, heating, water, etc.), and some to one-off actions, e.g., selecting ecological fitting materials or recycled furniture. While the Bank had operational data on media consumption, finish materials manufacturers were not always able to provide the carbon footprint of their products. Please note that correct and complete data are the overarching foundation for calculating the carbon footprint. Only after the data are properly compiled can mitigation strategies be implemented. The carbon footprint calculator prepared by the Foundation is a template for collecting and analyzing the necessary data. With this solution in place, Millennium Bank SA will be able to track emissions in its other branches and, as a result, continuously reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


EXPERT’S PERSPECTIVE

Aleksandra Drewko-Climate Strategies Poland
Aleksandra Drewko, PhD
carbon footprint calculation and reduction expert

“What is extremely important in calculating carbon footprint is not to compare apples against oranges. Therefore, correctly determining system boundaries and parameters is critical. The subject of evaluation was the previous and new branch of the bank. We have included parameters such as the number of full-time employees, the number of clients served per unit, and the opening hours, which, if changed, could also reduce the subject’s carbon footprint. Both the client and the Foundation were eager to calculate the actual reduction rate that followed the actions to reduce the use of utilities and the transition to renewable source power.”