Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

How to design low-carbon products

Low carbon products

Designing your products and services so that they produce less carbon is not only good for the environment, it will also make them more appealing to more environmentally aware customers.

It can also help your business to win contracts, such as government tenders, where the use of environmentally aware suppliers is encouraged.

The product life-cycle

To make goods carbon efficient, you need to consider environmental impact at every stage of your product's life-cycle.

The stages to consider include:

  • Raw materials - these must be fit for their purpose, but try sourcing suitable alternatives that are more carbon efficient.
  • Manufacture - can you make your product more simply, cutting the amount and number of materials? Could your manufacturing be more efficient, reducing waste and energy consumption? Are there renewable power sources you can use?
  • Retail - can you cut the distance your products are transported for sale - reducing fuel use and freight costs? Can you minimise packaging to reduce transport costs and reduce waste? See our guidelines: Packaging and Vehicle emissions.
  • Use - can you design your product so it lasts longer or can be more economically repaired? Can you provide better instructions for users so they get a longer life out of the product?
  • End of life - when the end user has finished with the product, is it designed to be reused, for example in a secondary market? If that's not possible, can you design the product so it can be recycled?

You can calculate the carbon footprint of your products - and identify areas for improvement - using the new environmental standard PAS 2050:2008.

There can be a real commercial advantage to adopting the standard, as it can help your customers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

British Standards Institution (BSI): PAS 2050

See our guideline: Energy labelling and ecodesign

Further information

BSI: PAS 2050 Carbon footprinting standard

Carbon Trust: Carbon Footprinting

SEE ALSO: Towards a circular economy

In this Guideline

How climate change affects your business

How to cut carbon emissions from energy use

How to cut carbon emissions from business travel

How to cut carbon emissions from business buildings

How to design low-carbon products

How to find suppliers of low-carbon products

Tax breaks to encourage energy efficiency

Comply with emissions trading requirements

International climate change projects and the carbon offset market

How to get involved with Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation projects

Purchasing carbon offsets

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