What is a Carbon Neutral Product?
If a product is certified carbon neutral, that means all unavoidable carbon emissions during the production of it were later offset (neutralized) by a certified, recognized carbon offset project.
Businesses that produce certified carbon neutral products seeks to attract and retain environment- conscious consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint. This allows customers to do their part for the environment without considerable hassle.
Simply, by the purchase of a carbon neutral product, you are automatically contributing to a carbon offset project. It's the easiest way to do your part for carbon neutrality. Not to mention it does wonders for the company's public image.
How Do You Make a Product Carbon Neutral?
To make a product carbon neutral, the first thing is to assess how much emissions were made in the first place. You need to do a thorough audit of the carbon footprint and environmental impact which the product makes during its entire life-cycle.
This includes all emissions made during manufacture, raw material import, transport of the finished product, it's usage by the consumer, and the ultimate disposal of the product.
This chain can be broken down into these stages. We need to calculate the total amount of emissions during all these stages.
1. Raw Material Acquisition
This requires energy, energy to acquire the raw materials in the first place (coal from coal mines, the manufacture of steel, etc. )and it also generates waste (unusable raw material).
2. Product Manufacturing
A freight train carries the raw materials to factories where the product is then manufactured. This process again takes up a lot of energy and generates considerable waste.
3. Product Usage
Depending on the product, it's usage will use up energy which could be a lot or a little depending on the type of product.
Ultimately, it's disposed of and which point it gets taken to a landfill and then it's crushed (a process which requires energy.) Or it can be recycled. If it's recycled, this product goes back to the materials manufacturing stage.
The audit measures the total carbon footprint and the environmental impact of all these stages.
A net neutral certification is achieved, by trying your utmost to reduce carbon emissions in each of these stages and then finally neutralizing the remaining, unavoidable emissions by a carbon offset program.
A company can have individual products marked as carbon neutral or the entire company itself can be carbon neutral if all it's products and services are carbon neutral.
Thus the certification process happens in three steps:
Do an audit of your product or business to calculate your total carbon footprint.
The audit will find out avenues and options where you can reduce your carbon emissions. Remember, prevention is always better than trying to cure something.
3. Offset (Neutralize)
Offsetting is done by purchasing high-quality carbon credits which are generated from carbon offsetting projects conducted around the world.
What are The Advantages of Carbon Neutral Products?
Apart from the obvious advantage of contributing to creating a more sustainable, livable future, working towards carbon neutrality has several other advantages within itself.
1. You set a precedent with your practices. Other companies will soon follow suit and come up with carbon-neutral certifications of their own. The ultimate aim is to save our planet, and somebody has to take leadership and lead by example.
2. You attract younger, more idealistic workers who are motivated to work hard, because of the belief that their work is safeguarding the future of our lives.
3. It generates a lot of positive publicity for the company, leading to more press coverage, more organic marketing and ultimately leading to more customers.
4. Purchasing carbon offsetting credits leads to planting more trees worldwide, and re-foresting deforested areas in many parts of the worlds, thus helping the local fauna and improving biodiversity.
5. Carbon offsetting credits fund renewable energy projects, which while reducing emissions, also reduce local air pollution. In addition to the environmental benefits, these projects also create job opportunities for local workers, contractors, suppliers, and entrepreneurs.
To win the war against carbon emissions, a collaborative effort is required, from company decision makers, manufacturers, and suppliers to the ultimate end users. Everybody needs to pitch in and do their part.
With a little bit of luck and constant hard work and vigilance, we can create a sustainable future for us and our children.