(32d) Trials and Tribulations in Carbon Foot Printing | AIChE

(32d) Trials and Tribulations in Carbon Foot Printing


Hangal, D. S. - Presenter, Environmental Compliance Assurance Management (ECAM)

Carbon foot printing is a determination of the total greenhouse gas emissions from an organization, product or event. This presentation describes the trials and tribulations in obtaining accurate and verifiable total greenhouse gas emissions through the complete lifecycle of a product. Complete lifecycle emissions include  all direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorcarbons (HFCs) through the raw material to disposal after end use of a product.

In this study, greenhouse gas emissions were estimated for a textile fabric sold wholesale to customers. This company identified two popular products as a test case to obtain carbon footprint data. These two products were high end product with higher recycled fiber content and a product line with 100 % natural fiber origination in the US. The product lifecycle boundaries were agricultural emissions, manufacturing, transportation and storage and use of product.  The goal was to obtain carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per unit measure of cloth that could be provided to end use customers.

Detail lifecycle planning was done and emission was estimated using known emission factors and activity data across the lifecycle.  There were several issues that affected the accuracy of data such as variability of fertilizer use in growing cotton, reliability of some emission factors, and apportionment of activity for transportation sources, amongst others.  This presentation will also discuss practical issues in working with suppliers and vendors down the supply chain in order to obtain accurate and verifiable activity data. In addition data rollout planning and difficulties with benchmarking will be discussed.