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Reducing Carbon Footprint of Manufacturing Industry Through Data Sharing

With global production sectors responsible for one-fifth of carbon emissions, consuming 54% of the world’s energy sources, there is an urgent need for manufacturing companies to address the challenges of decarbonization.

A first step towards reducing the carbon footprint of the manufacturing industry is understanding the Product Carbon Footprint (PCF), which measures the total greenhouse gas emissions generated by a product. Companies engaged in Unlocking Value in Manufacturing through Data Sharing, an initiative from the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, developed a blueprint to trustfully and securely exchange PCF data along manufacturing and supply networks.

With manufacturing industries on the verge of a data-driven revolution, this data sharing will enable manufacturers to establish a baseline of carbon emissions and provide the foundation for initiatives to decarbonize production operations.

What’s The Challenge?

While the manufacturing and production sectors are key drivers for economic growth, comprising 16% of global GDP, activity from these sectors also poses serious environmental risks that must be collaboratively addressed.

With supply chain emissions being on average over 11 times higher than operational emissions, tackling the climate crisis requires a transition to both carbon-neutral operations within companies’ boundaries, as well as carbon-neutral value chains. Growing consciousness among society, as well as demand from consumers, investors and governments for the correct labelling of a PCF demonstrate the value of establishing an emissions baseline.

But obtaining a complete and accurate PCF can be very challenging, due to the complexity of global supply chains and the lack of transparency in data. Companies need to share data with their customers and get data from their suppliers, which presents its own technical and trust barriers.

Approach To Reducing Carbon Footprint of Manufacturing Industry

To overcome these barriers, the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Value Chains is fostering collaboration among its members to develop a technical solution and demonstrate how CO2 emissions data can be trustfully and securely exchanged along supply networks.

Leaders from Siemens, Arçelik, Dow, GreenPlat and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – among others – are releasing a unique proof of concept, as well as integrated technical tools, that allow companies to input and exchange CO2-equivalent data generated in every step of the product life cycle.

The group has also joined forces to simulate a hypothetical supply chain. Arçelik, Siemens and Dow exchanged Product Carbon Footprint data in a simulated supply network for an Arçelik washing machine with a controller from Siemens and resins from Dow.

By sharing carbon-equivalent data, manufacturers can obtain a complete and accurate supply chain-wide carbon footprint. This ultimately helps them identify the major contributors to the CO2 footprint and reduce it. Learnings from this collaboration will inform and drive further collective action within the Unlocking Value in Manufacturing through Data Sharing initiative.

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