Standardisation ensures reliable information is provided on the carbon footprint of products PE INTE

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Issue 31 – September 2011

A new carbon footprint Standard, ISO 14067, is to be published in the next 2 years. This Standard will influence New Zealand's marketing of export products and will ensure that reliable information is provided on the carbon footprint of products. We talked to Dr Barbara Nebel about standardisation of carbon footprinting.

Barbara says, 'I think it's critical to get an internationally agreed Standard to provide a level playing field for all players. ISO 14067 will do that by providing a standardised approach to calculate and communicate carbon footprint.' Barbara is Managing Director at PE Australasia and New Zealand's representative on ISO Technical Committee 207, Subcommittee 7, Working Group 2, 'Carbon footprint'. Barbara co-chairs the Standards New Zealand International Review Group on Life Cycle Assessment (IRG LCA). This group reviews and provides input into the development of carbon and water footprint Standards and includes 41 New Zealand stakeholders interested in contributing to these Standards.

PE INTERNATIONAL provides strategic consultancy, software solutions, and services in the field of sustainability. Barbara says, 'ISO 14067 will help our business to advise clients on what to do about carbon footprinting and it will provide New Zealand businesses with specific guidance on carbon-related issues. Everyone will be able to refer back to the same Standard and it is likely that supply chain management tools will include ISO 14067 compliant carbon footprinting.

'Currently there is no internationally agreed carbon footprint Standard. People are using ISO Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Standards, the BSI Specification PAS 2050, and industry sector guidelines. ISO 14067 will provide a practical and consistent approach for how to calculate and deal with carbon emissions and how to communicate the carbon footprint, including what the 'carbon footprint label' should include.'

Representing New Zealand's best interests in carbon footprinting

The IRG LCA includes a broad range of New Zealand stakeholders who review and contribute to ISO 14067. 'My role as Co-Chair of the IRG LCA is to represent New Zealand's best interests in carbon footprinting,' says Barbara. 'I have been involved with ISO 14067 from the start. PE INTERNATIONAL helps to develop ISO LCA and GHG Standards and I have provided feedback to the PAS 2050 revision and the development of the GHG protocol in line with the New Zealand feedback to ISO 14067 – providing consistent New Zealand feedback to all three documents.. I have worked on LCA for 7 years with New Zealand industry and MAF. I am also President of Life Cycle Association of New Zealand and one reason I set this up is to standardise the use of LCA methodologies within New Zealand.'

Barbara regularly attends ISO working group meetings to discuss the interests of the IRG LCA. Barbara says, 'My role includes facilitating New Zealand's comments on the Standard and passing these comments to ISO to ensure New Zealand's feedback is heard.

'I also regularly review the Standard to ensure we provide input into areas that are important to New Zealand. For example, one area where New Zealand has a strong point of view is that carbon stored in wood products reduces carbon in the atmosphere. This is important as New Zealand has a sustainable forestry industry and I'll work to ensure that carbon storage is stated in a meaningful way in ISO 14067.'

Barbara says participating in ISO Standards is important for several reasons. 'The ISO process works. Every country has one vote on the Standard and New Zealand's vote is as significant as say the US or Germany. This means we can influence issues that are significant for New Zealand industry, government, and consumers. Our participation also helps New Zealand to strengthen relationships with other countries and to see how we can support each other in this area.'

New members are welcome to join the IRG LCA. Please email isoadmin@standards.co.nz for more information.

Related Standards

  • AS/NZS ISO 14040:1998 Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework
  • ISO 14040:2006 Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework
  • ISO 14044:2006 Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines

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