A carbon footprint can help identify where to concentrate environmental efforts, but its limits show the necessity of taking a more comprehensive view of sustainability. Find out what a carbon footprint is and how UPM Communication Papers is committed to helping mitigate climate change through a holistic approach to sustainability.
Discover the true value of a carbon footprint
What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is an indicator that expresses the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during the production and delivery of a good or service. It is a single figure that aggregates all GHGs like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides to be expressed as an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2e).
Since a carbon footprint is a calculation based off various measurements and not something you can measure directly, one can opt to calculate it in different manners, drastically altering how much carbon dioxide equivalent the calculation results in and thus, changing the carbon footprint. We at UPM follow the strictest definition of a carbon footprint conforming to the standards of accredited international bodies and report our carbon footprint on both the corporate and product level.
Corporate-level carbon footprint
Our corporate-level carbon footprint indicates our emitted GHG emissions as a whole and is communicated using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, which is the most widely used tool. Read more about how UPM’s corporate-level carbon footprint is calculated here.
Product-level carbon footprint
We use the Carbon Footprint Framework for Paper and Board Products which is called the Ten Toes. The Ten Toes framework was developed by the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) to calculate the carbon footprint of our papers. The carbon footprints of each of our products is calculated annually and can be found as Carbon profiles in the UPM Certificate Finder. More detailed information about the CEPI Ten Toes and our product carbon footprint can be found here.
What are the limitations of a carbon footprint?
Leading carbon footprint standards warn against simply comparing carbon footprints before assuring that the carbon footprints are comparable. To be comparable, they would have to meet the same basic conditions.
Here we list a few limitations that are good to be aware of, when comparing carbon footprints:
- The calculation is highly complicated and is based on best available data but makes some well-intentioned assumptions along the way.
- Due to missing measurement standards or information, a carbon footprint doesn’t cover all stages in the product lifecycle.
- A carbon footprint only shows a snapshot of the carbon emissions at the moment it was calculated and doesn’t consider improvements
- Since a carbon footprint is calculated using only GHG emissions and does not take into consideration forest and water use, which are highly important indicators of environmental performance, it cannot alone demonstrate that a particular product or business is superior or inferior to another
How do we use carbon footprints to improve our climate performance?
A carbon footprint is best suited to identify which parts of the product lifecycle contribute most to GHG emissions. By doing that, it enables us to take action to lower the amount of GHG emissions, thus reducing our carbon footprint. At UPM Communication Papers, we are continually taking actions to reduce our carbon footprint. The carbon footprint can also show how part of a product’s environmental performance has improved over time.
Our carbon profiles reveal that purchased electricity and the energy generation at our mills make the largest contribution to the carbon footprint of our papers (download infograph for more detailed information). We therefore continuously aim to procure renewable or low-carbon energy and to increase energy efficiency in our production.
What is the role of carbon footprints in the bigger picture of tackling climate change?
Due to the limitations of relying on a carbon footprint, tackling climate change is much bigger than just focusing on a carbon footprint. Taking action to mitigate the effects of climate change is a top strategic priority within UPM Communication Papers. Therefore, while improving our product carbon footprint is a key objective, we play a wider role in Climate Change Abatement through a series of actions that show a commitment not only to offering products with continually lower carbon footprints, but that promote wider climate considerations. Download the infographics of our actions here.
We are proud to also offer the CO2ACT service, so that our customers can offset the emissions of their ordered paper through investments in compensation projects that are certified and verified by the Gold Standard Foundation and are selected to be greenwash free. UPM makes the decisions and investments necessary to address climate change and is committed to responsible action long-term.