LCA learning portal

To guide our CO2 reduction ambitions we calculated the CO2 footprints of all our products via a life cycle assessment, or LCA. As of mid-October 2022, all visitors to our webshop can see the total CO2 footprint of a product on the product page. Visitors with a login to our website can see more detail about what makes up the total footprint, namely the CO2 emitted at various life cycle phases of a product development. This learning will elaborate on the approach and scope of LCA at XD Connects and, importantly, how you can use this information to make positive change when purchasing.

The big picture

Why the focus on CO2? A lot of CO2 is emitted globally which has a large, negative impact on the environment and life on earth. It is not visible, which makes it even more dangerous: things that can’t be seen are more easily forgotten, especially if the negative impact is long-term. Think of the effects of climate change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions like more extreme weather events like floods and forest fires, or rising sea levels. There are many more harmful greenhouse gas emissions but CO2 is the most common by far; the measuring of its impact is very important. Translating this to business activities is key to making positive change in this space.

What is an LCA?

A Life Cycle Assessment (or LCA) is the calculation of the impact of a product during its lifetime. This method is most commonly used for CO2 footprint calculations. A product’s life consists of several life cycle phases such as raw materials; production; packaging; transport; usage; and end-of-life/disposal.

What is the ‘Life Cycle’?

For all these phases, electricity and/or fuel are used in one way or another, causing CO2 emissions. Think of machines delving raw materials; factories using electricity for manufacturing machinery; ships using fuel to transport items; electricity used by consumers to make the product work; and emissions generated in the recycling or incinerating plants for disposed products. Together, the amount of CO2 that is generated in the production, shipping, use, and recycling of a product is its CO2 footprint.

All our products have their own footprint. The size of this footprint depends on:

  • the materials it was made of and if they’re recyclable
  • the mode of transportation used
  • the type of packaging
  • does usage require electricity
  • the expected length of usage of the product

Source: NCASI, 2019

Scope is very important when working with LCAs, especially when comparing LCA data between products (or even companies). A scope refers to the boundaries you can set within the complete product life cycle. The most common examples are:

  • cradle-to-gate: from raw materials to the gate of the factory.
  • cradle-to-grave: from raw materials to the disposal of the product by incinerating or landfill.
  • cradle-to-cradle: from raw materials to the recycling of a product, returning it to a base material which can be the ‘raw material’ of a new item.

We want to offer as accurate as possible a scope for our LCA given the information and tools at our disposal. XD Connects’ LCA is cradle-to-grave; this compares to cradle-to-cradle, which assumes the recycling of the product after usage. Our choice of scope as cradle-to-grace is because, even though we know the recyclable nature of our materials, we cannot guarantee that recycling is offered for our product or that the country where it is disposed of has sufficient recycling options. A material can be very well recyclable but if a country does not offer this service it will be disposed of without recycling.

At XD Connects we use a licensed calculation tool developed in collaboration with EcoAct. The methodology of the LCA is based on ISO14067 and is verified by Bureau Veritas, an independent third party auditing and certification agency. Using a licensed tool also means that any adjustments around data or method of calculation must be done in coordination with EcoAct.

How should I use XD Connects’ LCA data?

We want our customers to select products not just on quality, design, and price, but also on impact!

Where to start? First, you can use the sorting feature on our webshop to sort based on total CO2 footprint. Then, check out the product CO2 information on the:

  • ESG Footprint box on product pages;
  • product sheet;
  • product comparison sheet; and
  • CO2 Footprint tab on product pages (accessible after login)

Our product pages are now equipped with all the information you need to make an informed choice. Let’s make positive change happen!

Visualising product CO2 footprints

A product’s CO2 footprint can seem like an abstract figure. A powerbank with a footprint of 2.27kg CO2eq (CO2 equivalent) or a weekend bag with a footprint of 5.69kg CO2eq; what does that mean in concrete terms? We have noted some comparisons below to help you in your decision-making process – not meant for formal reporting, however. These are estimates and all figures are rounded.

To learn more about the source of this information and Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) in general, visit https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions

Kilograms of CO2eq compares to the emissions (CO2eq) generated by one of the following:

1KG-CO2eq

·         Fully charging 122 smartphones

·         Driving 4.2 km (2.6 miles) in an average gasoline-powered car

5KG-CO2eq

·         Fully charging 608 smartphones

·         Driving 20.6 km (12.8 miles) in an average car (petrol)

10KG-CO2eq

·         Fully charging 1,216 smartphones

·         Driving 41.2 km (25.6 miles) in an average car (petrol)

20KG-CO2eq

·         Fully charging 2,433 smartphones

·         Driving 82.6 km (51.3 miles) in an average car (petrol)

Quiz!

You think you know everything about the LCA? Test your knowledge!