Supply Chain Emissions Software a Silver Bullet or Slippery Slope?


Image via Planet Metrics

Back in January we saw a company called Planet Metrics at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. They've created a software that allows companies like retailers, product manufacturers, and consumer packaging manufacturers to see their supply chain carbon emissions and easily identify ways to reduce the footprint of their products or services. The software has finally just launched and companies like Method are already taking advantage.

But in the bigger picture, is software like this still too simplified to help make the complicated decisions around sourcing goods? While companies get a helping hand with software like this, two big issues arise. One is that the information is still not detailed enough to be the be-all-end-all for supply chain decisions for the lightest footprint. And the second is, how will consumers know?Planet Metrics Lays It Out for Companies
Planet Metrics' newly launched Rapid Carbon Modeling software is a boon for businesses, without a doubt. Their constantly updated database of supply chain carbon emission information helps companies understand the carbon footprint of their product, made all the more lucid with heat mapping capabilities. Taking into account everything from electricity involved in processing the material to transportation methods, each portion of a final product is laid out and a company can quickly and easily see where they can cut back on carbon emissions in the supply chain.

Helping Companies Make Decisions
The software goes further than just showing - it also can help the company analyze what changes would be effective. For instance, if a company sees that one ingredient in their product has a big carbon footprint, and it's because it comes from overseas, the software can show what sort of a savings they'd have if the company sourced that ingredient locally.

Effective Decisions Are Based on More Than Just Carbon
But more than just a smaller carbon footprint needs to be taken into account when deciding on sourcing supplies. While this software is incredibly useful, and can be utilized with ease by companies, it isn't necessarily the only thing companies need to make the best sourcing decisions.

For instance, say sourcing an ingredient from Mexico versus Germany means it has a smaller carbon footprint, does it still make it the most environmentally, socially, and economically viable choice? Beyond the vast array of environmental factors that go into gathering and processing raw materials that all contribute to carbon footprints, not all of which could be reasonably expected to be encompassed in one database, there are the social implications as well, which also contribute to the environment. How is the workforce treated? What are the living conditions for those in the local area where the materials are gathered? Many factors come into play. And that includes the impact this has on consumption of the goods.

Does It All Matter If Consumers Don't Know?
If no one knows that a company has improved their supply chain choices and therefore the consumer can't base a purchasing decision off of that and select the product from the shelf, then where is the competitive edge of making a product with a lower carbon footprint than your competitor, especially when pricing plays a part?

We're all getting fairly tired of wading through eco-labels. Eco-labeling is one part handy shopping guide, one part total BS. And consumers have a rough time figuring out which labels are which. So the question is how will consumers know that companies are utilizing strategies like Planet Metrics' software and similar tools to cut down their footprint, and therefore reward the company through their purchases?

Software Systems Are Part of the Solution
Software systems like Planet Metrics' Rapid Carbon Modeling are a big part of the solution for helping companies understand and make better choices around their carbon footprint. While the complexities can't be understated, it's a good sign to see more businesses working to help companies analyze and decrease their total carbon emissions.

And companies recognize this as a big help. As mentioned, Method is already signed on to use Planet Metrics' services, and soon, Planet Metrics is releasing a list of other companies utilizing the software.

More on Carbon Emissions Tracking Software
Demanding Broader Carbon Footprint Calculations
OpenEco.org Expands Tools for Detailed Carbon Tracking
HP Steps Up IT Industry Transparency, Releases Supply Chain Emissions Data

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Corporate Responsibility | Environmental Footprint

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