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Earth Institute Research Projects

Carbon Catalogue - product carbon footprints

Lead PI: Dr. Christoph Johannes Meinrenken

Unit Affiliation: Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management (SPM)

Unknown start date - Ongoing
Active
Global ; New York City, NY
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This data-visualization tool, called Cabon Catalogue, shows the carbon footprints of hundreds of consumer products. The free tool makes it easy for everyone to understand the carbon-emission levels of everyday products as well as the strategies companies are employing to reduce emissions. The tool breaks down the carbon footprint of a product during its entire life cycle, illustrating the carbon it emits during the raw material, manufacturing and later downstream phases. The data show that several companies have made vast improvements in reducing their products’ emissions. Some have instituted sustainable practices such as reducing packaging for food and beverage products, while others replaced fossil fuel with bio energy or lowered the energy consumption of computers. The visualization looks like a wheel with color-coded spokes, each representing a consumer product such as a cell phone, a car, or a pair of jeans. When a user hovers over a spoke, a pop-up box appears with a summary of a product’s life-cycle data, including improvements companies made to reduce its carbon emissions. Working with CoClear, Meinrenken analyzed carbon emissions data for 866 products made by 145 companies from 28 countries. The companies voluntarily submitted the data to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), a nonprofit that asks companies to complete detailed questionnaires about their products’ emissions data. The researchers used life-cycle data submitted to CDP on products from 2013-2017 to create the visualization, whose menu allows viewers to search by company, industry or year.

MULTIMEDIA

February 14, 2019

Data Visualization Tool Shows Carbon Footprint of Everyday Products

The Carbon Catalogue makes it easy to explore consumer products’ carbon emissions and the various strategies companies are employing to reduce emissions.