Building a 'green' brand : Importance of product carbon footprint data

Green Brand

Blog by Lavanya Pawar
Published on May 31, 2023

You are a chemical company. Your product X is the primary ingredient for plastic manufacturers across the globe. Environmental sustainability ranks at the top of your business agenda in the coming fiscal year. You painstakingly map out your supply chain emissions, identify hotspots and optimal entry points for low-carbon feedstock. Based on the carbon footprint (PCF) data collected, you now own a “green” product. What next?

Marketing your low-carbon product, or building a sustainable brand, is a challenging task. Under scrutiny from both civilian and regulatory stakeholders, companies have to ensure that their product carbon footprint data is accurate, derived from primary sources, adherent to globally recognised standards, and doesn’t contain any greenwashing. This is easier said than done – as things stand currently, it is very difficult to collect, share and interpret emissions data across the value chain. This is corroborated by the IMF, who, last year, cited a lack of high-quality, reliable, and comparable emissions data as one of the biggest barriers in tackling climate change.

In this article, we will analyse four reasons why accurate, supplier-specific PCF data is the most crucial ingredient to building your green brand and product value.

Greenwashing and increasing regulatory scrutiny

In January, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) announced that it will scrutinise green claims on essential consumer goods to ensure there is no falsification of data. “Concerning practices could include the use of vague and broad eco-statements like packaging or marketing a product as sustainable or better for the environment with no evidence; misleading claims about the use of recycled or natural materials in a product and how recyclable it is,” the agency said.

“Greenwashing”, or false/misleading claims that corporations make on the eco-friendliness of their products, is an ever-growing problem. A European Union (EU) study in 2021 showed that almost half the companies audited were greenwashing in some form or the other.

Why do companies greenwash? There are a lot of headwinds and emerging incentives for companies to switch to green. These would include ESG ratings for investments, growing climate consciousness among end consumers, “green premiums” for low-carbon suppliers, and carbon taxes like CBAM in Europe. We have explored these factors in detail here.

Thus, many corporations intentionally engage in fraudulent activities, with false or inflated claims regarding the eco-friendliness of a product, activity or policy, with an aim to capture a larger market share. Others fall into the trap of ‘unintentional’ greenwashing.

Either way, the repercussions of faulty data can range from hefty fines to regulatory action and irreversible brand erosion. Ensuring data accuracy and defensibility is one way to avoid such claims.

Standardisation of data

Standardisation of Product carbon footprint data is happening in real time with initiatives like Together for Sustainability (TfS) and WBCSD-PACT. This will result in:

  • Explosive innovation as costs and friction are reduced
  • Early adopters reaping the maximum competitive advantage

While each standard might differ in the granular level, there are baseline common principles that define high-integrity data. Take the case of TfS PCF Guidelines. It recommends four guiding principles for emissions data collection:

  • Relevance: A relevant report includes necessary information for decision-making, ensuring transparency in data selection, sources, and activities included.
  • Completeness: The inventory should reflect Scope 3 GHG emissions accurately, avoiding exclusions that compromise the report’s relevance. Any exclusions must be justified and transparently documented.
  • Consistency: Consistent application of accounting approaches, inventory boundaries, and calculation methodologies is crucial.
  • Transparency and Accuracy: Transparency involves clear disclosure of processes, procedures, assumptions, and limitations, while accuracy ensures credible and reliable data for decision-making.

Supplier-specific data, standardised and explained in context, is crucial to meet these requirements.

Calcualte Product Carbon Footprint

Green branding against a benchmark

Suppliers can use standardised and accurate PCF data of a particular product to benchmark against the industry average under that product category. This can help suppliers showcase to buyers that their products can:

  • Reduce the PCF of the final manufactured goods.
  • Reduce their Scope 3 emissions.

This will be especially useful for customers who rely on science-based targets like SBTi.

Build stronger customer relations

Enterprises spend a lot of money to procure industry-average databases to calculate LCA/ PCF and Scope 3 emissions. Different databases have different values, and inaccuracies are rife. With primary data, suppliers have a real opening to build strong relations with the buyer. Data-sharing can be a trust-building exercise, and the promptness with which suppliers respond to requests will be a contributing factor towards building short-term satisfaction and long-term relations.

Carboledger as the single source of trusted data

Our mission is to help companies decarbonise their supply chain with supplier-specific data that is globally compliant. Our secure network helps companies share and access audit-grade PCF data in real time. Enterprises can manage data requests from multiple customers with a single platform, while maintaining complete ownership over the information.

Every piece of data added on the Carboledger network is standardised, verified and rated by our expert team.

Our dashboards can be your single-source-of-truth. You can track the progress of all ongoing Product carbon footprint calculations in your organisation, assign team members with specific tasks, and keep an eye out on the turnaround time for a Product carbon footprint request from a customer.

Visualise your carbon intensity. Share the data with minimal time delay. Enhance your customer relationships

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