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Why do we measure carbon handprint?

Apr 25, 2022 | Sari Siitonen |

The carbon handprint provides the company with fact-based information to support decision-making and the opportunity to communicate the positive climate impact of its own products and services.

Whenever I mention carbon handprint at occasions or customer meetings, the listeners are intrigued. This is not surprising, as companies are constantly looking for new ways to communicate the excellence of their own products and services.

The carbon handprint is a positive indicator that can be used to compare your own low-emission product or activity with, for example, a market leader or your own conventional solution. Measuring a carbon handprint is simultaneously measuring the carbon footprint. For each carbon handprint, two carbon footprints must be calculated and compared: one for the handprint solution and one for the reference point.

The carbon footprint of a product or service is fixed, while the size of the carbon footprint may vary depending on the reference point. For example, the same handprint product may replace different products in different markets or the climate impact of the energy it uses may vary in different countries. The aim for the carbon footprint is to get it as close to zero as possible, while the aim for the carbon handprint is to be as big as possible.

Carbon handprint – 6 benefits for the company

When a company is planning a new, more climate-friendly business, the carbon handprint is an excellent tool. The carbon handprint offers the company at least the following benefits:

  1. A carbon handprint is a measure that provides scientific information about the climate benefits of a product or service of a company. This information can be utilized in information management as well as in sales and marketing.
  2. Increasing a positive carbon handprint is a more inspiring goal than reducing a carbon footprint, and it is also more clearly linked to a company’s financial goals. The carbon footprint can be reduced to zero if the operations of the business are run down. But at the same time financial returns, jobs and the ability to develop something new are lost. The situation is different with the carbon handprint. The more a company succeeds in selling its low-emission products, the greater the positive carbon handprint.
  3. The process of increasing a carbon handprint creates a cycle of positivity: research and development and new innovations are needed to develop the product further. A climate-friendly product sells better. The company’s revenue grows, and it can invest more in sales and marketing. This in turn will help further increase sales and at the same time grow the positive carbon footprint.
  4. In order to determine the carbon handprint, a company must be aware of other solutions on the market. While the previous carbon footprint works as the benchmark when reducing the carbon footprint, it works as a competitive solution for increasing the carbon handprint. Monitoring your own emissions is easier for a company than conducting a market analysis. As increasing the carbon handprint requires a company to follow the market and competitors, it also helps the company identify and strengthen its own competitive advantage.
  5. If a company intends to invest in, for example, new technology, determining the carbon handprint can strengthen the soundness of the investment decision. A positive carbon handprint can also increase credibility among investors.
  6. Reducing your own carbon footprint is rarely newsworthy. However, communicating the benefits of a new low-emission product can attract not only customers but also media attention, giving the company free visibility and advertising for its products.

If carbon footprint reduction was compared to gardening, it would be like weeding, which is undeniably useful, but does not actually create anything new. Growing a carbon handprint, in turn, could be compared to planting new plants – it requires more planning and background research, but the reward is growing prosperity.

*) Finland is a pioneer in the development of carbon handprint calculation methods. In 2018, VTT and LUT University published the first carbon handprint guide, which described a carbon handprint calculation method based on life cycle analysis (LCA). The updated Carbon Handprint Guide V 2.0 was published in spring 2021 and now the calculation method can be used not only for product-specific calculations but also for company- and project-specific calculations and for determining the environmental footprint.

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Sari Siitonen

Founder, CEO


+358 40 761 5221