Carbon footprint standards: let’s explain easily

By:Edmond Research and Development | 27/10/2022

The original standardization process for carbon footprint was the development of the ISO1404x series of standards. ISO14040 (Environmental management and Life cycle assessment e Principles and framework) was first published in 1997 (Muthu S. S., 2015).

ISO14040 is broader than carbon footprint, providing a basis for assessing products against other LCIA indicators like those for contributions to ozone layer depletion and pollution of oceans, but the assessment of greenhouse gas emissions has been central to LCA from the beginning.

ISO/TS14067 (Greenhouse gases — Carbon footprint of products — Requirements and guidelines for quantification and communication) has emerged as an important technical standard for carbon footprint after the original proponents paused in their drive to turn it into an ISO standard, though it is possible it may be converted into a full ISO standard after it is reviewed in 2016.

Two other important standardization processes have been developed in parallel to the ISO/TS14067 process. One is the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) development by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WRI/WBCSD) that covers the corporate and product levels. The other is the Publically Available Standard 2050 (PAS2050) of the British Standards Institute.

These and other technical guidance documents of greatest relevance to the carbon foot printing of textile products in the English-speaking world are shown in Table 2. 1. PAS 2395:2014 sets out supplementary requirements that tailor PAS2050 to the assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the life cycle of textile products (Muthu S. S., 2015).

There are some common features across all of the standards produced by these three institutional groupings and some differences. As is the case with the ISO1404x standards, ISO/TS14067 is more general than the GHG Protocol or PAS2050.

There are also many other ISO standards and other initiatives of relevance to greenhouse gas accounting, for example the French BPX30-323 ‘General principles for an environmental communication on mass market products.

At the more detailed level, the International Environmental Product Declaration System contains more detailed Product Category Rules (PCRs) that provide guidance on the assessment of climate and other impacts, specific to a particular textile product (e.g., nonwoven cleaning cloths) (Muthu S. S., 2015).

SourceStandardNameLatest VersionScale
International Standardization OrganizationISO14040Environmental management – Life cycle assessment -Principles and framework2006LCA
ISO14044Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Requirements and guidelines2006LCA
ISO14025Environmental labels and declarations - Type III environmental declarations - Principles and procedures2006LCA
ISO14064Greenhouse gases - Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals2009Organization
ISO/TS 14067Carbon footprint of products - Requirements and guidelines for quantification and communication2013Product
World Resources Institute/World Business Council for Sustainable DevelopmentGHG ProtocolGreenhouse gas protocol: A corporate reporting and accounting standard2004Organization
Greenhouse gas protocol: The GHG protocol for project accounting2005Project
Greenhouse gas protocol: Product life cycle accounting and reporting standard2011Product
Global Reporting InitiativeGRISustainability reporting guidelines – Reporting principles, standard disclosures2014Organization
British Standards InstitutePAS2050Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services2011Product
PAS 2395Specification for the assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the whole life cycle of textile products2014Product
European CommissionPEFProduct environmental footprint guide2013Product
OEFOrganization environmental footprint guide2013Organization

Table 2. 1 - Key standard and technical guides in international use for carbon foot printing (Muthu S. S., 2015)

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