US beverage association publishes beverage carbon footprints

The US Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) has finished research on the carbon footprints for 5 beverage categories – beer, bottled water, carbonated soft drink, spirits and wine, in Europe and North America.

The research is available on its website, together with boundary assumptions, emission calculation details, secondary data sources and impact analyses discussion.

The research is intended to identify those aspects of the beverage value chain that contribute significantly to the overall carbon footprint of a product and to evaluate the sensitivity of the carbon footprint to modifications in material or production practices such as packaging material selection, distribution logistics and recycling rates.

The carbon modelling and analysis contained within the reports is based, in large part, on data from BIER member companies through their independent business evaluations, such as life cycle assessments and greenhouse gas inventories.

“The category models being released today are a good example of how companies can work together to promote environmental sustainability,” said Robert ter Kuile, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, PepsiCo.

“This research will help PepsiCo, our fellow BIER member companies, our customers, and the broader beverage industry to identify new opportunities for sustainable business practices that conserve resources, reduce emissions and protect the environment.”

Japan-Indonesia peatland mapping system

A research project between Japan and Indonesia is working out how to estimate the size of carbon reservoirs in peat forests and monitor how carbon is moving, according to reports in the Jakarta Post.


The project is called “Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development” project.

It is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)

The tropical peatland in Central Kalimantan has been recognized as one of the most significant carbon reservoirs in the world.

The system developed has been called an “Integrated Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system”.

NASA: CO2 snow clouds measured on Mars

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected carbon dioxide snow clouds on Mars.

“This reveals the only known example of carbon-dioxide snow falling anywhere in our solar system,” NASA says.

Carbon dioxide freezes at minus 125 degrees Celsius.

The snowfalls occured from clouds around Mars’ South Pole in winter.

The data from the clouds was gathered by looking at them straight overhead and sideways with the “Mars Climate Sounder,” a device which measures 9 bands of visible and infrared light.

It identified a tall carbon-dioxide cloud about 300 miles (500 kilometers) in diameter persisting over the pole and smaller, shorter-lived, lower-altitude carbon dioxide ice clouds at latitudes from 70 to 80 degrees south.

Columbia: big data to get faster carbon footprints

Researchers at the engineering department of Columbia University, New York, are developing ways to use big data sets to calculate carbon footprints faster.

The researchers wanted to measure the carbon footprint for 1,137 different PepsiCo products.

The researchers developed a predictive model which generates an estimated “emission factor” for each material, as an alternative to manually mapping the ingredients and packaging materials against commercial life-cycle assessment databases.

It follows a 5 year project involving the The Earth Institute, Columbia University, and PepsiCo, Inc, with an original aim to evaluate and standardise carbon footprinting and labelling in the UK and US. PepsiCo has been pilot-testing the methodology since summer 2011.

“Our novel approach generates standard-compliant product carbon footprints for companies with large portfolios at a fraction of previously required time and expertise,” says Christoph Meinrenken, the study’s lead author and associate research scientist at Columbia Engineering and The Earth Institute.

Any carbon footprint generated can be audited against the World Resources Institute life-cycle assessment (LCA) standard.

Without this system, calculating carbon footprint for a big range of products, as a supermarket might wish to do, is a massive manual task, with enormous amounts of data to be collected and analysed. But if companies use aggregate data instead, they miss out on the detail.

“Mining all the ‘big data’ that’s already available in companies’ data warehouses will enable us to calculate the carbon footprints of thousands of products virtually simultaneously,” said Christoph Meinrenken, the study’s lead author and associate research scientist at Columbia Engineering and The Earth Institute.

This automated information can help companies speed up their assessments of the impact of reduction strategies, such as using less carbon-intensive fertilizers when making orange juice.

The data should also get better over time.

Carbon Disclose Project report on 500 biggest companies

The Carbon Disclosure Project, a US non governmental organisation which gathers climate data, has released its annual report on the carbon emissions of the US’ 500 biggest companies, and the world’s biggest companies, based on data the companies have submitted themselves. The report was co-written by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Fewer than half of the global companies responding reported a decline in their emissions due to emission reduction activities (this distinction is made because emissions can decline for other reasons, such as reduced business activity overall).

The average of long term targets is about 1 per cent a year, which Price Waterhouse Coopers said is “drastically too low” when there have been estimates that society in general needs to reduce emissions by 4 per cent a year.

20 per cent of companies have adopted long term targets to 2020.

49% of companies stated that regulation is an important driver of corporate action.

“CEOs can’t make major investments decisions based on the grand statements made by governments in Rio and at climate summits. They need investment-grade policies,” said Jonathan Grant, director, sustainability and climate change at PwC.

“Governments have not translated their declarations in Durban into more ambitious legislation, or long-term emissions targets, at the national level. The low level of corporate ambition is probably a reflection of this.

“There is little sign of companies breaking the underlying link between economic output and emissions, but with many integrating climate change into their strategies, business will be in a better position to invest if policy issues are resolved.

There were 3382 company requests for information. CDP aims to get company investors behind it, so when it asks companies for information, it can say it is asking on behalf of investors.

The top ten US companies for carbon disclosure (which is not the same as the companies with the best carbon performance) are Pepco Holdings, NYSE Euronext, Wells Fargo, ACE, Eaton, Exelon, Autodesk, Bank of America, Lockheed Martin and Allstate.


Jet Airways uses IBM to track aircraft emissions

Indian airline Jet Airways is working with IBM to calculate and track its aircraft emissions and optimise fuel usage.

It is part of a 10 year agreement signed between Jet Airways and IBM in 2010, to streamline and consolidate IT operations.

IBM has provided its “Integrated Emission Management System.”

The company uses it to analyse and calculate emissions from individual aircraft, based on flight records and fuel usage data. Sources of data include internal aircraft systems, regional navigation data and flight records.

The system is also used to save money by reducing fuel consumption, and the company says it has saved $6m annually from having the system.

IBM also provides Jet with data centre operations, end user services, central helpdesk, network management services, server storage operation, and security services. It is responsible for application management services for the carrier including ERP, flight operation, revenue management, roster and crew management, cargo management, customer relationship information system, aircraft maintenance and operations system, baggage reconciliation system and sales force automation.

Press release

North American supermarkets – measure carbon to reduce it

Sobeys supermarket of Nova Scotia, Canada, set a goal in 2008 to reduce its carbon footprint by 15 per cent and reduce the amount of waste in landfills by 30 per cent, in 5 years, which means by May 2013, according to a report in US publication Supermarket News.

It developed an online database tool which sent out carbon reports, initially every month but then changed to every year. The data was taken from electricity and gas bills.

After four years, it had reduced carbon footprint in stores by 9.4 per cent, in distribution centres by 22 per cent and on vehicles by 12 per cent.  The stores contribute 84 per cent of total emissions so there is still progress to be made.

The company is now fitting LED lights and glass doors on store units holding dairy products.

It found that 28 per cent of the carbon footprint comes from leaks of refrigerant, so this has been an area for targeting, moving to refrigeration systems which only use carbon dioxide as a refrigerant.

To improve vehicle emissions, it has reduced engine idling time, having vehicles sized to the volumes they need to carry, making vehicles more aerodynamic.

It uses heat from the refrigeration systems to heat water and air spaces. This provides 75 per cent of water heating in peak times.

To reduce landfill it has installed organic waste recycling units (composters) in 44 stores.

It is also charging 5 cents for a plastic bag to promote bag re-using.



Google – 1.68m tons CO2 in 2011

Google has released data about its carbon footprint, saying it released 1.68m tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2011, not counting emission offsets.

The breakdown was 1.44m tonnes from purchased electricity to run data centres and offices; 29,500 tonnes from vehicles including Street View cars; and 208,000 tonnes from business travel, employee commuting, server manufacturing, data centre construction and fuel for offices.

Emissions per $1m revenue were 44.3 tonnes, compared to 49.3 tonnes in 2010 and 54.7 tonnes in 2009.

“Without efficiency measures in our data centers our footprint would have been about twice as big,” it said.

Its data centres use 50 per cent of the energy of ‘typical’ data centres, with the use of ‘smart’ temperature controls, using outside air or water for cooling, and measuring everything.

The “Power Usage Effectiveness”, a calculation of total energy use divided by energy need to drive the servers, is 1.14, compared to a typical industry figure of 2, the company says.

It minimises the number of times power is converted from one type of current to another, and keeps power supplies as close to the load as possible.

The company buys renewable energy, and “high quality” carbon offsets, which brings its carbon impact to zero.

100 Google searches generate 20g of CO2, as much carbon dioxide as you’d generate drying your hands with an electric dryer, ironing a shirt or to make 1.5 tablespoons of orange juice, the company says.

3 weeks of watching YouTube non stop would generate 3kg of CO2, equivalent to the emissions from one load of laundry.

Cost of HCFC-22 less than value of carbon credits from not making it

The cost of making HCFC-22, which is used in refrigerators and air conditioners, is, oddly, less than the value of carbon credits you can be given by destroying HFC-23, a by-product from making it, writes Gangadhar S Patil in the Indian news service “Daily News and Analysis”.


This is because HFC-23, a by product of making HCFC-22, is 11,700 more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Mr Patil calculates that over 50 per cent of all carbon credits issued before July 2012 were for destroying HFC-23.

So companies are incentivised to make HCFC-22 just so they can have HFC-23 and destroy it.

There has also recently been a sharp fall in the price of HCFC-22, he writes.

One company Gujarat Fluoro Chemicals, increased production of HCFC-22 by 45 per cent after getting clean development mechanism (CDM) approval in 2004, Mr Patil writes, after researching the company’s annual report.

Meanwhile, between 2005 and 2012 it earned 1,000 crore (x 10m) Rupees, or GBP 110m, from selling carbon credits.

At the same time, the company’s inventory of HCFC-22 increased from 349 units in 2005 to 3599 units in 2010, suggesting that it is manufacturing large amounts of HCFC-22 but keeping it in storage. It is not known what its long term plans for this are.

In 2011 the CDM executive board considered stopping issuing carbon credits for destruction of HFC-23 gas.

Michael Ware of Stanford University is quoted as saying that most credits generated in the CDM come from projects which are suspected of over-crediting and are creations of bogus accounting.

Amar Mody, a carbon market specialist in Mumbai, is quoted as saying that he estimates that almost 40 per cent of total greenhouse gas reductions have a false baseline figure.



Carbon Trust launches version 4.0 of “footprint expert”

UK carbon reduction consultancy the Carbon Trust has launched version 4.0 of its “Footprint Expert” software, which can be used by companies to calculate and report their carbon footprint, according to the internationally agreed standard PAS2050:2008.

Users can also compete their footprint assessment against the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol Product standard.

Users can gather their data once and the software can generate a report according to the requirements of both standards, so there is no duplication of workload.

PAS2050 is being developed by the British Standards Institution, whilst the GHG Protocol Product standard is based in the US.

The Sustainability Consortium, comprising 400 leading global retailers, manufacturers and consumer packaged goods companies, has voted to adopt the GHG Product standard.

You can use the software to produce reports with free text areas covering boundary setting, sources of uncertainty and reduction targets.

You can use the software as a basis for certification.

A 1-year licence for access to Footprint Expert costs from £1,500 plus VAT, with a renewal fee in subsequent years from £1,000 plus VAT.

2 day training courses are available.