The battle against climate change requires attention to be paid towards the greenhouse gas emissions that are generated during the use of products, which is a critical aspect that is often neglected. Although reducing emissions during manufacturing and transportation has been given deserved attention, the carbon footprint of products is still on the rise due to their usage. This article takes a closer look at the importance of comprehending and dealing with the emissions resulting from product use.

When considering carbon emissions, we tend to associate it with industrial smokestacks and congested roads full of cars. Yet, the products we utilize in our daily lives also have a crucial role in fueling greenhouse gas emissions. These range from electricity-consuming appliances to gas-guzzling automobiles, and the emissions produced during product usage can pose a significant threat to our carbon footprint.

Product usage emissions exhibit significant variation, depending on the product type and how it’s employed. For instance, household appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners consume electricity, thereby contributing to emissions emanating from power generation. Likewise, vehicles discharge greenhouse gases during fuel combustion, with driving habits and maintenance practices also affecting emission levels. It’s essential to take note of these subtleties to create efficient mitigation plans.

In the realm of carbon accounting, emissions from product usage fall within the category known as Scope 3 emissions. Scope 3 emissions encompass indirect emissions that occur both upstream and downstream of an organization’s operations, including those generated by suppliers, customers, and end-users. The category of “use of sold products” specifically addresses the emissions resulting from the consumption and operation of products by customers after they have been sold. Despite being the most significant source of emissions for many industries, Scope 3 emissions are often overlooked due to their indirect nature and the challenges associated with data collection and attribution. However, given their substantial contribution to overall carbon footprints, addressing Scope 3 emissions is imperative for businesses committed to mitigating their environmental impact effectively. 

Integrating emissions generated during the product use phase into carbon reporting frameworks is important to acheive comprehensive and accurate environmental impact assessments. By calculating these emissions alongside those resulting from manufacturing and transportation, organizations can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their carbon footprint and identify areas for improvement. In addition, when companies disclose the emissions generated by product usage, it fosters a healthy competition among them to enhance their ecological performance, resulting in a pursuit towards sustainability. Consequently, through adopting a comprehensive carbon reporting system, which encompasses product use emissions, enterprises can establish themselves as pioneers in the shift towards an environmentally friendly economy, while also satisfying the increasing requirement for eco-conscious goods and services.

 

To learn more about this topic:

  • https://carbometrix.com/insights/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-use-of-sold-products/ 
  • https://www.carbone4.com/files/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Carbone-4-publication-emissions-usage-produits-vendus_EN.pdf 
  • https://ghgprotocol.org/sites/default/files/2022-12/Chapter11.pdf

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