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    What is ISO 14067:2013 and why is it useful for carbon footprint?

    In recent years, climate change has emerged as one of the most important environmental issues. The cause of the global warming is the increase of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), which leads to greater interest of the consumers and other stakeholders in the environmental impact of their activities, products, and services. Although this means a challenge for organizations, it can also be seen as an opportunity. The certification of the Carbon Footprint, which belongs to the environmental series ISO 14000, enables the organization to demonstrate its environmental responsibility.

    Currently, there are two types of methodology approaches for the carbon footprint calculation: one is based on the organization, and the other on the product. In this article, we will focus on the international standard for the quantification and communication of the products.

    The concept of CFP (Carbon Footprint of a Product)

    The Carbon Footprint of a Product is the total of the greenhouse emissions generated during the life cycle assessment of a product—that is, from raw material acquisition or generation from natural resources to final disposal. The GHG are considered all gaseous substances for which the IPCC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) has defined a global warming potential coefficient. They are expressed in mass-based CO2 equivalents (CO2e), which is the unit of measurement in ISO 14067.

    The contribution of the standard

    In May 2013, ISO TS 14067:2013 was published, which specifies principles, requirements, and guidelines for the quantification and communication of the carbon footprint of products (CFPS), including goods and services, covering GHG emissions and removals over the life cycle of a product.

    The standard establishes a recognized reference frame for the Carbon Footprint of a Product, and it has been considered as “a very important tool for obtaining a good indication of areas in which greenhouse gases can be reduced” by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Klaus Radunsky.

    Prior to the publication of this standard, numerous assessment models were developed; however, there were no objective analyses or tools for comparing these classifications. This was the main reason for the standard’s development, which was based on previous environmental labeling and management standards.


    The application of ISO 14067:2013

    ISO 14067 provides the criteria to calculate the Carbon Footprint of a Product, now a competitive tool in the marketplace. This increases the consumer trust on this environmental indicator and helps to clarify the labeling of the products.

    The international standard bases the footprint calculation on the life cycle analysis. That helps to discern which stage is responsible for most of the emissions, provides valuable information on how to correctly identify the opportunities for improvement, and allows for achievement of maximum efficiency.

    The standard clarifies the GHG assessment, providing specific requirements in the life cycle assessment (LCA) approach, choosing system boundaries and simulating use and end-of-life phases when quantifying Carbon Footprint of a Product (CFP).

    The functional unit in ISO 14067 can be either a product or a service. The results of a CFP study can be reported as a product unit or in terms of services provided.

    System boundaries

    Results for the carbon footprint will vary widely depending on what is included when making the calculations, and the methodology.

    According to ISO 14067, the life cycle stages that need to be studied in the LCA are defined by the following system boundaries:

    • Cradle-to-grave: includes the emissions and removals generated during the full life of cycle of the product
    • Cradle-to-gate: includes the emissions and removals up to where the product leaves the organization
    • Gate-to-gate: includes the emissions and removals that arise in the supply chain
    • Partial CFP: includes the emissions and removals that come only from specific stages

    Selecting system boundaries avoids data manipulation, because organizations will no longer be able to exclude life cycle stages that they claim to have limited significance.

    Communication practices

    Carbon footprint is becoming popular among companies to differentiate their products in a competitive market, hence the importance of the communication of this measurement.

    ISO 14067 makes a valuable contribution to GHG quantification, allowing a transparent communication and comparison of CFPs made among identical quantification and communication requirements.

    The standard provides a step-by-step guide and standardized template for communicating the result of the CFPs. That can be made in the form of a CFP external communication report, CFP performance tracking report, CFP declaration, or CFP label. A standardized format of each type is provided in the standard.

    This is also complemented by an external communication report (ECR) and a carbon footprint performance report (CFPR). These reports depend less on quantification and provide quick and traceable information to the final consumers.

    Benefits

    There are many benefits that arise when performing a CFP assessment:

    • The standard makes reliable and comparable parameters available to organizations and consumers.
    • Life cycle processes that significantly contribute to CFP can be identified by service providers and manufacturers; thus, improvement in the efficiency of the value creation chain by reducing emissions can be achieved when taking targeted measures. Furthermore, this LCA can help organizations to implement other standards, for instance ISO 14001:2015 (see more about the ISO 14001 approach in the article Lifecycle perspective in ISO 14001:2015 – What does it mean?).
    • The standard provides a transparent quantification and reporting of the GHG, including those generated from the production to the waste disposal or recycling – that is, the whole life cycle of the product or service.
    • ISO 14067 is also consistent with other environmental standards, for instance, ISO 14025 (environmental labels and declarations), ISO 14044 (lifecycle assessment), and BSI PAS 2050 (specification for the assessment of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services).
    • The calculation of CFP is the first step towards the implementation of a reduction and offsetting strategy for the emissions.

    Making a difference

    The publication of this standard means a step forward in GHG quantification by using a new range of system boundaries, but furthermore provides transparent communication and comparison, because ISO 14067 makes available a standardized template for reporting CFP assessments. By implementing this standard, a company demonstrates its environmental responsibility, differentiation itself from competitors and reinforcing its image.

    Use this free online training ISO 14001:2015 Foundations Course to learn the foundations of environmental management.

    Advisera Iciar Gallo
    Author
    Iciar Gallo
    Iciar Gallo has more than 10 years of experience in business consulting training and auditing, including a number of management systems such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. She has worked for several international companies and prestigious universities, leading projects in Spain, Panama, Venezuela, England, and more recently in the USA. She has also worked as a teacher of several courses on environmental standards and at AENOR and Advisera. Iciar holds a MSc degree in Environmental Management and Control from the Technical University of Madrid and is certified as an auditor of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.