Breakthrough in product level carbon footprints

Jul 13, 2010

British Breakthrough in Product Level Carbon Footprint Measurement Technology

Britain leads the way in product level carbon footprints with the publication of the first measurement standard PAS 2050 by the British Standards Institute in 2008 and its subsequent adoption as ISO draft standard 14067.  Unfortunately, PAS 2050 has proved too expensive a process, and after an initial burst of enthusiasm there are very few products going through the process. 

We have created another British Breakthrough in carbon footprint measurements and have now analysed 3.6 million goods and services, and calculated their carbon footprints.  This allows for a significant shift in policy from the measurement and reduction of an organisations electrical consumption to the measurement and reduction of an organisations entire impact.

For example the 2008 study of the NHS Carbon footprint took 4 years, and it showed that electricity and gas energy use accounted for only 22% of the NHS carbon footprint and that 88% came from the areas that are not addressed by the Carbon Reduction Commitment CRC.  

The current policy of reducing energy consumption rather than overall carbon footprint, is expected to have the effect of reducing our energy intensive industries, however it is also expected to increase the worlds overall carbon emissions since we will export energy intensive manufacturing to countries like China that have lower efficiencies in their production.

One of the reasons for the current policy is that product level carbon footprints have to date proved too difficult and costly for widespread adoption.  A typical PAS 2050 assessment costs 10's of thousands of pounds and with millions of products in the supply chain.  It would cost 100's of billions to roll out PAS 2050 process based product level carbon footprints through the supply chain.  This is not going to happen and an alternative solution is required.

The breakthrough technology @UK PLC has created with our partners University of Reading, Goldsmiths College, University of London and the Centre for Sustainable Accounting, removes the current cost barrier to analysing an organisations overall carbon footprint, and allows organisations to improve their performance by purchasing local, regional or global products that have the lowest footprint, and to balance this against the rest of their polices to achieve the required reduction.

e.g. For the NHS the largest single contribution to its carbon footprint is drugs.  This is a rich industry where Britain is a world leader, and could and would improve performance if it was part of the NHS's Carbon Reduction Comitment due to its contribution to the NHS carbon Footprint.

Our technical advance has come from combining two pieces of UK research.  @UK PLC's joint research with University of Reading and Goldsmiths College University of London to automatically identify products to create SpendInsight.  @UK PLC have already used SpendInsight to analyse over £103 billion of public sector spend (with significant savings identified).

The other half of the breakthrough comes from the Stockholm Environment Institute at University of York and its Centre for Sustainability Accounting, who have analysed NHS, UK, Regions and Local Authority carbon footprints using input output methodologies and provided the methodology and carbon footprint data.

The combination means that we can analyse and organisation down to its individual products purchased in less than a week, vs the 4 years that the Stockholm Environment Institute NHS study took.  This breakthrough in speed and efficiency means that the previous barriers to analysing the overall carbon foot print of an organisation no longer exist, and it will be possible to re-evaluate policy now that it is clear that the majority of most organisations carbon footprints come from the goods and services that the organisation uses rather than travel and energy.

The product level carbon footprint information comes from @UK PLC's e2class database using CenSA data.  This information is used with an organisations SpendInsight spend analysis to create the GreenInsight report.

@UK PLC is building on this breakthrough to provide product level carbon footprints for every product sold through the @UK PLC marketplace, and is populating BASDA Green XML messages so that all its integration partners can also use the product level carbon footprints in their accounting systems.

The combination of @UK PLC universal product level carbon footprints plus BASDA Green XML means that carbon accounting can now be rolled out through mainstream accountancy systems.

e2class and GreenInsight are launched today at the Business of Bio-diversity summit in London along with BASDA Green XML.  (@UK PLC is one of the core contributors to BASDA Green XML).


Sue Stephens @UK PLC 0118 963 7000


About @UK PLC

@UK PLC spun off from @Software PLC in 1999, and inherited @Software’s IPR including its EDI and Content management systems, with the aim of becoming a major ecommerce business directory.

@UK PLC floated on AIM in 2005, and has now built up more than 1 million users on its ecommerce and eprocurement marketplace.  @UK PLC is also a significant company formation agent having formed over 200,000 companies using its SiteGenerator ecommerce engine.

@UK PLC has now got carbon footprint information for 1.8 million commonly purchased products on its marketplace and 3.6 million items that it has analysed via SpendInsight.

SpendInsight has now analysed over £ 103 billion in spend over the past 18 months, and @UK PLC has analysed a further £ 16 billion via subsidiary Coding International.

About BASDA (Business Application Software Developers’ Association)

BASDA was founded in 1993 and today acts as the voice of the UK-based business software industry. BASDA represents IT organisations of all sizes from the world's largest business software suppliers through to UK headquartered medium and small sized businesses.

For the last 15 years, BASDA has been working with governments, standards and policy-making groups in the UK, Europe and worldwide to provide a forum for collaboration to resolve issues that affect the business software industry and our customers.

BASDA provides independent news, opinion and commentary from its position as a non-profit making organisation that represents the collective voice of the UK-based business software industry on behalf of it members. BASDA also produces whitepapers and reports on current legislation and changes that affect the software industry.

BASDA is a member-driven organisation with established special interest groups (SIGs) covering Financials, HR & Payroll, Taxation & Final Accounts, eBusiness, Construction, Logistics and Green issues.