The BOSS Federation is the trade association which serves the UK office supplies and services industry by providing a range of initiatives, cost saving benefits and services, to enhance the business performance of its members.
A ‘carbon footprint’ is a term used to describe the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions, usually expressed in terms of equivalent tonnes of CO2, that are generated by an activity, product, person or organisation.
The carbon footprint of a product includes all the emissions generated over its entire lifespan from the energy used and the waste produced during its manufacture, the fuel burnt for transport, emissions generated during the use-phase, right up to the emissions generated by disposal.
There is currently no official UK (legally binding) methodology for calculating a carbon footprint and the methods used by different organisations do vary. The UK Government is currently consulting on the creation of an approved methodology and there is a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) currently being developed, this has the title: PAS 2050 – Measuring the embodied greenhouse gas missions in products and services. It is advisable to base any methodologies you utilise closely on this document as extremely likely that any future British standards will be based closely on this PAS. PAS2050 is also the methodology used by the Carbon Trust for the development of the Carbon Label which is being developed for use on all products, including printed products. The Carbon Trust has also recently launched the Carbon Standard which is a voluntary standard for the measurement of a site product footprint designed in line with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol methodology.
The BOSS Federation has assisted in the development of the forthcoming PAS2050 to make it applicable to printed matter and has created a carbon footprint calculator specifically designed for the print and packaging industry that is based upon PAS2050 methodology. The calculator generates three reports to give a site carbon footprint, a product carbon footprint and a list of the factors contributing the carbon in order of magnitude making identification of key areas of carbon emissions simple so that reduction measures can be targeted where they will be most effective. The methodology for the carbon footprint calculation is robust as it follows PAS2050 but the calculator has been designed for maximum ease of use so the data required can be sourced easily through readily available information such as invoices and meter readings.
Carbon footprinting is currently an entirely voluntary activity from a legal perspective. The main drivers for business to undertake this activity include supply-chain, customer and stakeholder pressure, environmental management and performance improvements, potential cost-savings, potential market share increase, improving brand image, marketing opportunities and ‘future-proofing’.
Many politicians and economists predict, notably without denial from the Government, that with the current trend of green taxation and focus on carbon emissions it is likely that UK companies will be taxed in some respect depending upon their carbon emissions or ‘carbon footprint’. This latter point of taxation depending upon environmental performance has already been illustrated through issues such as the Low Emission Zone recently approved for London and through the Climate Change Levy (CCL) which is a "green tax" based upon the energy consumption of fossil fuels. As fossil fuel-derived energy that is consumed by an organisation is converted directly into carbon emissions data for CCL regulation, it is true to say that the larger an organisation’s carbon footprint then the more a company is obligated to pay in taxation through the CCL. It is likely, but not certain, that in the future emissions regulation will take the form of a "cap and trade" scheme such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme that was recently piloted. In simple terms, organisations get a capped limit with regards to the emissions they are permitted to produce. They can sell any excess "carbon credits" if they remain under their cap or have to buy credits if they go over their permitted level.
Calculation of a carbon footprint is the necessary first step in reducing it. Reducing your carbon footprint leads to the obvious environmental benefits of reduced green house gas emissions but it can also bring economic and social benefits too as costs are often reduced and reputations and employee motivation can be improved. Calculating your carbon footprint can highlight inefficiencies in your business such as inefficient resource and utility consumption and it allows for a new perspective to be taken at each individual part of your business operations.
Carbon footprinting is already proving to be a major environmental issue in the print and packaging sector and international industry as a whole and it is likely to become an increasingly important matter securing market share and complying with future legislation.
For further information on how the BOSS Federation can assist you with carbon footprinting please email Liam.Gardner@bpif.org.uk