Tool to measure carbon footprint of materials

A new online tool will help procurement professionals measure and manage the CO2 in the products they buy

August 24, 2011
by Deanna Rosolen

Toronto/U.K. – Procurement professionals will be able to measure and manage the amount of carbon dioxide associated with the products they purchase with a new online tool that’s set to launch most likely this October.

Toronto-based came up with the idea for the Supply Chain Carbon Footprinting tool about a year and a half ago. The company partnered with UK-based Virescent Consultants who developed the data and models behind it.

Carbon footprint

For procurement professionals, measuring the impact of the materials they purchase is a fairly new field. “Purchasers never worried about carbon, they were concerned about the costs of materials,” says Rod Sherkin, president of “No one cared about how steel containers for canned food were made, but today purchasers and companies are thinking about that – how much carbon is embedded in the products they buy.”

Carbon tool

The Supply Chain Carbon Footprinting tool works fairly simply.

The tool asks users to start by listing the main commodities and quantities they purchase. Users are then prompted to send their suppliers a link to a questionnaire. The questions are strategic and tied to algorithms that eventually calculate the carbon footprints.

Virescent, which is a research and consulting company that works with businesses to help them become more sustainable and less carbon-intensive, also developed the questions. For this project, Virescent’s president, Tom Bowers,  personally managed the development of the information on how much carbon is embedded in processes and products.

With the results, procurement professionals can then approach their suppliers about working together to reduce their carbon footprints.

The aim, says Sherkin, is to “open up a rich vein of discussion with suppliers, reduce carbon emissions, and contribute to corporate social responsibility.”

The tool will be available to subscribers for free, and subscribers to Virescent will also be able to access it.