Product Carbon Footprints and emissions in the Personal Care Industry
The Beauty industry is an important part of many people’s daily grooming rituals, yet the environmental impact of these quotidian products is ever more important to the consumers who purchase and use them. With the claims of “environmentally friendly” products growing, alongside a call to reduce negative impacts, the awareness of beauty’s footprint on the planet is increasing. The impact is seen from the raw materials sourced for our shampoos, creams and lotions to the packaging they are distributed in and the effect our daily use has on water, energy and waste.
One particular area where the personal care and beauty industry can play a major role is in the reduction of carbon emissions. From the production of raw materials to the manufacturing of ingredients, processing of formulations, and then the packaging, transportation and eventual disposal, the industry's carbon footprint is significant.
This blog series will explore the topic further from explaining a product carbon footprint to reducing those associated emissions through smart and effective choices.
What is a product carbon footprint?
Let’s start at the beginning. One important way a company can measure the environmental impact of their products and their business is by calculating their carbon footprint. Many companies are calculating their overall carbon impact (their footprint) for reporting purposes and to help meet their decarbonisation goals. This is now expanding to a more granular level and being calculated down to the individual product level.
A product carbon footprint is a measure of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced and consumed over the lifecycle of the product, and it provides a means to assess the carbon impact of a product. These footprints are essentially a measure of the negative impacts that arise as a result of operational activities, and everything/everyone leaves a footprint behind. However, once we know the impact of our footprint, we can introduce strategies to reduce those emissions and their resulting impact. Ideally, introducing restorative or regenerative positive impacts, sometimes called your carbon handprint, that will balance out the footprint.
Croda’s product carbon footprints take into account cradle to gate emissions; i.e. they include composite Scope 1,2 and Scope 3 upstream emissions data. (For a reminder of how carbon emissions are categorised into scopes and what they are, see our blog ‘Beauty Cares about Carbon’, or 'Personal Care's Decarbonisation Journey'.)
How is a product carbon footprint measured?
Good question. When it comes to the measurement of a carbon footprint, there is no exclusive methodology that is used within either the personal care or chemical industry. The well-respected International Organisation for Standardisation(2) do however have a standard (ISO 14067:2018(3)) that provides principles, requirements and guidelines for the quantification and reporting of the carbon footprint of a product.
Together for Sustainability(4), TfS (a joint initiative and global network of 40 chemical companies which delivers the global standard for environmental, social, and governance performance of chemical supply chains) have also released a ‘Product Carbon Footprint Guideline for the Chemical Industry’(5), which is aligned to both the ISO standards on carbon and also the Greenhouse Gas Protocol(6). The product carbon footprint methodology developed by Croda is aligned with this guidance from TfS, meaning that we are following best practice that is specific to the chemical industry when measuring our product carbon footprint.
Keep an eye out for our follow up blog which will focus on reducing carbon emissions, and in the meantime, head to 'Personal Care's Decarbonisatoin Journey' to learn more.