Carbon lifecycle thinking

As circular economy experts, Resource Futures has developed a proven niche service to its clients to help them understand and strengthen their business case for new and evolving product and services in terms of their carbon footprint.

Full and formal life cycle analysis that will stand up to scrutiny in the public domain is notoriously costly and data-heavy. However, for internally reported data, we typically find that our clients are satisfied with a relatively informal, quicker, and cheaper approach, but which still conforms to ‘lifecycle thinking’. The appropriate approach is something we discuss up-front with our clients.

Such a fit-for-purpose approach is helpful for simple ballpark outputs and rapidly exploring the potential impact of high-level system, materials changes, process changes. The benefits of this include:

  • Sense-checking initial hypotheses that a new product or service will be ‘lower-carbon’;
  • Attracting investor or public funding for later in-depth product development;
  • Avoiding unintended negative outcomes of product or system changes;
  • Identifying carbon ‘hotspots’ which can be remedied at an early stage.

Our carbon foot-printing services

Our carbon calculations are typically designed to:

  • Compare a traditional linear value chain (manufacture, use, dispose) with a more circular one (manufacture, use, prepare for reuse / recycle, use again…) for the same product;
  • Indicate the ‘hidden’ carbon savings up the supply chain from putting less waste in the bin;
  • Explain complex and nuanced environment in a tangible way to a non-specialist audience, e.g. “Recycling X food cans is equivalent to saving the exhaust carbon emissions from X cars in a year”.

We are often commissioned to turn our carbon calculations and analysis into user-friendly Excel-based tools so that clients can generate further calculations in-house.

Our track record includes:

  • Calculating changes in carbon ‘from farm to fork’ for a supermarket chain evaluating a reusable container system for its customers in place of single-use primary packaging;
  • Comparing options for reusing retail shoe hangars across a global supply chain;
  • Comparing the carbon footprints of alternative packaging and supply chain routes for deliveries of school milk;
  • Developing a simple carbon calculation tool to aid a product design team to optimise their returnable coffee cup and takeaway food container business model;
  • Calculating factlets for a local authority’s campaign aimed to encourage residents to recycle more;
  • Calculations and a tool to help a charity explain to its corporate donors of unwanted clothing what the environmental benefits have been above and beyond the monetary income the donations provide;
  • Calculating cost savings, break even points, and carbon savings for an SME entrepreneur who was developing a device to reduce wastage of beer in pubs;
  • Calculating Resource Futures’ own carbon footprint. Our calculations have been verified by a third party and used to offset our emissions, including Scope 3, via a Gold Stand offsetting scheme. Resource Futures has been carbon-neutral since 2015.

Browse projects that use this service