21 March 2024

ISCC, one of the leading international certification systems for sustainable and traceable supply chains, has successfully initiated the further development of a carbon footprint certification for various products and value chains.

Industrial and consumer goods generate vast amounts of carbon emissions throughout their life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to their end-of-life. Depending on the processes and raw materials used for the manufacture, the effect a product has on the environment differs and is inter alia reflected in the Product Carbon Footprint (PCF).

Many companies increasingly search for means to measure and reduce carbon emissions associated with their products to eventually make credible claims towards their customers. Numerous approaches already exist to support these ambitions, such as the use of non-conventional feedstock or carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and storage (CCS) methods. Companies require a reliable method to verify their products’ environmental impact and demonstrate compliance with distinct criteria.  

ISCC’s recent developments

On the pulse of the market and in constant dialogue with its stakeholders and system users, ISCC has decided to invest in the advancement of a dedicated carbon footprint certification for products. Jan Henke, Director of ISCC and MEO Carbon Solutions, explains: ”We have observed a growing interest from companies, especially from the chemical industry, in certifying product carbon footprints and providing this information to their customers. For manufacturers and players along the supply chain, it is central to cut down their carbon footprint and make trustworthy claims to customers and consumers.” 

To this end, ISCC has started to establish and optimise a solution tailored to the needs of system users and stakeholders in various industries. The result of a first development phase and multiple pilot projects is the ISCC Carbon Footprint Certification (CFC). The CFC shall harmonise the existing offering under ISCC PLUS and will be applicable for the certification of PCF. Moreover, the new system will make it possible to link carbon footprint certifications and mass balancing along complex value chains. 

Still under development, the system will be a standalone module that solely focuses on the product carbon footprint and the applicable greenhouse gas emission calculations. Thanks to its flexibility, the CFC can be used as a supplement of the well-established ISCC PLUS certification, enabling system users to make claims both on feedstock origin and their PCF. 

An important pillar and a first focus area of the CFC includes CCU and CCS techniques. Both applications are a future-forward pathway to decarbonise the chemical industry. To use these techniques and communicate the CO2 saving potential, it is necessary to certify compliance with precise and transparent guidelines through third-party verification of multi-stakeholder certification systems. 

First pilot projects confirm feasibility

To test the practicability of the applied methodologies, ISCC is conducting pilot projects in one of its focus markets and has just reached the first milestone.

Fairway Methanol, a joint venture of Celanese and Mitsui & Co., has been the first to achieve ISCC CFC for its low carbon CCU methanol. The newly certified material demonstrates a greater than 70% reduction in carbon footprint relative to a global average benchmark for fossil-based methanol production. Kevin Norfleet, Global Sustainability Director, Acetyls at Celanese states: “We’re proud to be the first to receive ISCC carbon footprint certification for CCU materials, which allows us to strengthen our ability to offer customers a wider range of lower-carbon footprint products.”

The way forward

Further pilot projects for additional reduction measures and setups are still underway and will help optimise the current approach and ensure its global applicability step by step. 

Therefore, certifications can currently only be done with the direct involvement of ISCC. Henke adds: “For us, the establishment of a new module for product carbon footprint certification is another important step to support the transition to a low carbon future. To best meet the needs of our system users and stakeholders, we are committed to advancing and optimising the initial system based on existing standards and initiatives.” 

For more technical details visit: https://www.iscc-system.org/certification/iscc-certification-schemes/iscc-carbon-footprint-certification/