Calculating the carbon footprint of a product, that is to say working out its cost in grams of CO2, can help give us an idea of how they affect the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In order that this choice is done in full transparency, results for the carbon footprint must not vary depending on what is included when making the calculations and the method used.

Looking for clarity

In the case of a bottle of shampoo, for example, should the calculation include the greenhouse gases involved in the production of the plastic packaging, the plastic film used to wrap the bottles when they’re transported on the pallet, the ingredients in the shampoo itself, and even the energy used to heat the water for the shower? And, even when we do have a final figure, how to communicate this to the consumer?

This uncertainty was the motivation behind the development of a new international technical specification ISO/TS 14067.

"Calculating the carbon footprint of a product is an incredibly complex task but it is important that the results can be trusted, especially for the consumer," explained José Alcorta, the ISO contact for the team of experts that developed the technical specification.

"Carbon footprint measurements are an increasingly popular way for companies to differentiate their products in the marketplace, so how to communicate these values to consumers becomes particularly important. This is why experts from around the world decided to develop principles, requirements and guidelines for the quantification and communication of the carbon footprint of a product. The ISO/TS 14067 standard will help companies calculate the carbon footprint of their products and communicate these numbers in an open and honest way to their consumers," he added.

ISO/TS 14067 is available from the ISO store as well as all ISO members.