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promotional technology

Tech Talk – March 2023 “Measuring & Following the Footprints

The UK promotional industry leads the way in its focus on products with a sustainable twist and story. The demand over the last 2-3 years has grown at an amazing pace and many suppliers / distributors have completely switched to products that have been altered in some way to try and make them less harmful to the environment – whether packaging or product build / make up.

Many Marketer’s and their companies are turning away from, even banning any items that feature their logo if they have not been redesigned / revamped to reduce their impact… indeed ecological responsibility is / should become the “ standard not the exception “ and prices should also not be at a premium for such goods. One of the key areas for our sector is the growing importance and understanding / measuring of a products impact on the environment – its sol called “footprint “.

This is being expressed as the C02e footprint of the item and how the factors in its production have contributed to its C02 emissions being expelled into the environment.

This measure is expressed in tonnes of C02e. Here we will take a look at some of the factors that make up this value and what suppliers / distributors can then do with this data once it’s been independently verified. A product’s footprint should be independently verified to be believable and to avoid claims of “greenwashing “– one such verification to look for is something like ISO14067 this is what we work too.

So the technical stuff “The carbon footprint of a product is the result of a single –criteria life cycle analysis. It is expressed in tons of CO2e per functional unit. The functional unit is the reference measure for life cycle assessment. It is used to express the impacts of a product over a predetermined lifetime.” To show the elements that are measured please see the diagram below:

Every aspect of the product’s production, shipping, packaging and progress from country of origin to final use is plotted, measured, and a complex data map created – example below:

This data is compiled by the independent company working with factories / manufacturers, couriers, raw material suppliers all aspects are studied carefully. This study takes into all distances travelled through the manufacturing supply chain, even down to the amount of electricity used – where the power was purchase and whether that was carbon or non-carbon generated, all waste produced in production, all upstream and downstream transport to get to a data set that then with a is put into a complex spreadsheet that creates a footprint expressed in tonnes of CO2e. Once all data has been logged and examined (for data validity) the end result is below and you have the carbon footprint.

The next step is controversial with many different contrasting opinions are currently being debated by the experts / governments. This topic is how to compensate the effects of the product on the planet and how this compensation can be described – terms such as “net zero “ and “ carbon offset “ are currently used – but this may change as opinions change.

Different schemes can so called “off set” the CO2e by planting trees, contributing money to wind-farms, plastic waste removal from the oceans, water treatment, wave power all of which have different effects to assist the environment and “give back “ for the effect of the products from our industry on the planet.

For sure our industry is not the “worst” Co2 polluter but equally it’s not the best and the focus on such measurement and action following the “carbon foot printing” will become the norm not the exception as it is now. An every changing area that it pays to take expert advice in and trust suppliers who do so.

For help or advice about how promo tech can be used in your next campaign, get in touch with the team @ DTI - contact 0844 875 7624 or

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