WHY WE PREFER REDUCING
Our household and natural cosmetic products generate significantly less packaging waste and environmental impact. In this way, we are already doing a lot to make the world a little cleaner every day. But the global problem of climate change has to do primarily with the emission of CO₂ and other greenhouse gases. So what about our carbon footprint? After all, we also want to ensure an improvement on the status quo in terms of CO₂ emissions when it comes to our products.
One thing is certain: from the extraction of raw materials, through production and transport, to consumption by customers, every product emits CO₂ and other greenhouse gases. Likewise, every company contributes to this, even if it’s just by operating an office. There are two particularly important indicators for mapping a company's carbon footprint. On the one hand, there is the Product Carbon Footprint (PCF), which reflects the CO₂ balance for a specific product. On the other hand, the Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF), which represents the CO₂ footprint of the entire company. Calculating these values as accurately as possible is a very costly and time-consuming process. For a young, fast-growing start-up like us, it's an insanely complex task. We are therefore also a bit happy that we were able to determine a CCF for 2021, the second full year of our company's history.
But why is it important at all for a company to determine and disclose its CO₂ emissions?
If a company can assign its CO₂ emissions to different categories as accurately as possible, it can see where its potential for improvement lies and where there is an urgent need for action to reduce its own footprint.
On the other hand, communicating CO₂ emission values, especially of products, raises awareness in our society that all of our lives – and our everyday consumer behavior – have a carbon footprint and thus an impact on our planet's atmosphere. The most accurate figures possible that quantify these impacts and put them into perspective can help consumers make informed consumption decisions and thus contribute to climate protection in their own lives.
In addition, a company can offset its emissions if it has calculated them accurately. In the amount of these emissions, the company can then buy CO₂ certificates – the price for which is determined by supply and demand – and thus finance certified offset projects (usually in the global South) that ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are prevented (e.g. by installing solar panels) or directly sequestered (e.g. through reforestation). When companies have offset all their emissions in this way, they often call themselves "carbon neutral." If they offset even more than their emissions, they even call themselves "climate positive".
Is everdrop "climate neutral"?
Definition & Meaning
Spoiler alert: We are not "climate neutral" and don't even want to call ourselves that in the future. Because this term suggests that a company could have zero CO₂ emissions – and thus no negative impact at all on the climate.
In the worst case scenario, a label such as "climate neutral" could motivate company managements to simply "make up" for their environmental sins with money. But climate protection is not a sale of indulgences. It is much more important for our planet that unnecessary emissions are prevented in the first place.
That's why offsetting is not a real solution – it should only be used for those emissions that absolutely cannot be avoided. We already offset some such emissions too – for example, for our Pamela Reif x everdrop sports detergent (see chapter below on PCF) or indirectly through our partners like DHL Go Green, who offset all national shipments for us – and we will continue to work to offset our unavoidable emissions with offsets. However, our focus is not on that.
Instead of offsetting, we want to invest even more in tracking and reducing CO₂ emissions. Our actions, whether in our supply chain or in our office, should become as environmentally friendly as possible. So instead of buying the "climate neutral" label, we'd rather be.... let's call it "climate-active". We are taking the somewhat more arduous, but, in our eyes, right path: we want to measure, analyze, avoid and reduce emissions, again and again.
Here we want to share all our findings about our carbon footprint with you.
A note in advance: In the following, you will encounter the unit of measurement CO₂e. This stands for "CO₂ equivalents". Colloquially, one always speaks of "CO₂ emissions" and "CO₂ footprint" – but this usually refers to the emissions of several climate-damaging greenhouse gases. In addition to carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), various fluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) are also included. All these gases are converted into CO₂equivalents according to their Global Warming Potential (GWP) and then reported in total with the unit CO₂e.
CARBON FOOTPRINT (CCF)
We used the Cozero software to calculate the emissions of CO₂ equivalents (CO₂e) generated by our corporate activities for the year 2021.
To measure our emissions, we followed the methodology and classification of the GHG Protocol. This involves measuring emissions in three different areas, known as scopes:
Scope 1 includes all direct emissions whose origin is under the direct control of the company, such as company-owned production facilities or vehicle fleets.
Scope 2 includes all indirect emissions resulting from the purchase of energy. This includes electricity and heating in particular.
Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions in 15 different categories – those emissions that would not exist without the company, but which are nevertheless not completely within its control. In addition to emissions in the supply chain, Scope 3 also includes, for example, business travel and employee commuting.
Our 2021 carbon footprint was 643 t CO₂e.
Note: Until 23 August 2022, we had published the intermediate figure of 410 t CO₂e, as we were missing the emissions data from our logistics partner DHL Go Green. These emissions of a rounded amount of 233 t CO₂e have now been included (under Scope 3 / Upstream transportation and distribution / Road Transports).
Here we explain the exact results in the three scopes. (click arrow right)
You are more into tables? We have something for you.
Here you can find our emissions in the different categories listed:
Attention, dear passenger! In our list, you may also notice two CO₂ values under Scope 3 that result from air travel – in the categories Transport/Air freight and Business Travel/Flights. At everdrop, we actually want to avoid flying. In 2021, we did not succeed in doing so due to two urgent situations in the supply chain (2 one-way flights) and for a single business trip (1 one-way flight). In the future, flights will remain an exception for us, but we cannot rule them out. By the way, we also have an official no-flights policy for business trips within Germany.
So what do we
DO WITH THIS CCF?
It is tempting to compare this value with that of another company – in order to determine which is more sustainable in terms of its carbon footprint. Unfortunately, this does not make sense – at least not yet. Although the (voluntary) GHG Protocol provides a framework for the CCF calculation, even if companies follow this protocol, they may omit some of the prescribed categories if, for example, there is insufficient data available. Particularly in Scope 3, there is often far too little or uncertain data available, as this is precisely not consistently in the hands of the company and is therefore often difficult to measure. Here, one often has to calculate with assumptions and estimates, or disregard individual categories completely. It is therefore always extremely important to read the "fine print" of CCF publications carefully before assessing an overall carbon footprint.
Our most important conclusion:the CCF survey has confirmed in black and white across the entire company our assumptions about where we are already doing well and where we are not. In the coming weeks and months, we will consider and implement measures to further reduce CO₂ emissions. One measure that has been on our minds for a long time, we were able to implement in March 2022: Since then, our office has finally been running on 100% green electricity. As a result, the total Scope 2 emissions of our office will be zero from now on. In addition, we will continue to work on providing the data that is still missing, or at least approximate values for the categories that are relevant to us. We will continue to give you updates on this here on our website as often as we can. Do you have any questions or comments about our CCF? Please feel free to contact us.
CARBON FOOTPRINTS (PCF)
A PCF includes all emissions associated with a product. A PCF shows how much CO₂ equivalents (CO₂e) are emitted by a product, from the raw materials used, through production, transport and storage, if necessary, up to use and disposal.
Above all, this requires a lot of reliable data. Which is not so easy with chemical products, we have found. For many of our raw materials, these data do not exist at all – and creating such data sets requires incredible expertise. In addition, analyzing just one raw material can be very costly.
So where do we stand? We have already had a PCF calculated and verified for one product:
Pamela Reif x everdrop sports detergent: 2.022 kg CO₂e.
For a bag of 15 wash loads, CO₂ equivalents of 2.022 kg are emitted, most of it by the raw materials. For those, emissions can only be reduced to a limited extent. Good news: Thanks to the water hardness concept in the online store and our formulation, the detergent is particularly compact, i.e. very little detergent is needed for one wash load, up to 39g less than with conventional detergents. If it were not so compact, we would need more raw materials and our PCF would be significantly higher. After calculating this product, we decided to offset it with a reforestation project in Panama. Reforestation is considered a very effective way of offsetting because trees directly remove CO₂ from the atmosphere.
everdrop cleaner glass bottle: 761 g CO2e
For one everdrop glass bottle from our partner Heinz-Glas, CO₂ equivalents amounting to 761 g are emitted, the largest share of which is due to glass production. Heinz-Glas has calculated the PCF and decided to offset at least one year's worth of bottle bodies produced via a project run by Climate Partner. This project provides energy-efficient biomass cooking stoves to communities throughout Uganda, significantly reducing CO2 emissions from cooking.
AN EMISSIONS ASSESSMENT
EVERDROP TAB VS. CONVENTIONAL LIQUID CLEANER:
We are also working hard to produce a PCF for our cleaning agent tabs as well as a comparison with a conventional liquid cleaner. As described above, this is complicated by several factors, including the fact that raw material manufacturers do not yet have (or want to make public) specific emissions data for individual raw materials, and also the fact that emissions databases unfortunately only partially represent our chemical raw materials. Nevertheless, we want to share our current status (May 30, 2022) with you.
ATTENTION! We would like to make it very clear at this point: From here on, all figures mentioned are based on internal data and assumptions. While the calculations are based on the GHG Protocol methodology, they are not externally validated.
For a PCF, different phases of a product life cycle are considered: These include in particular material procurement & pre-processing, production, distribution & storage (cradle-to-gate) and in some cases additionally use and disposal (cradle-to-grave). However, the following illustration only shows production and distribution & storage. This is due to the difficulty in collecting data described above. All results are therefore to be understood with great reservation.
For our calculations, we analyzed different life cycle phases of our tabs. For comparison, we analyzed how much CO₂ we would emit if we produced a commercial liquid cleaner in a disposable plastic bottle.
According to our current knowledge, the production of our tab generates half as many emissions as the production of a liquid cleaner. For the distribution and storage phase, we have emissions data so far for our warehouse and for transport from the manufacturer to the customer. Here, the tab saves 95% emissions in transport compared to the liquid cleaner. More than 40,000 tabs fit on a pallet sent from our manufacturer to our warehouse. However, according to our assumptions, only about 1100 full bottles fit on one pallet. So if we want to compare the same amount of cleaners in transport or storage: 1 pallet of tabs is equivalent to 38 pallets of commercial liquid cleaners. The weight saving leads to further efficiency gains. A 500ml liquid cleaner including the bottle weighs over 500 grams, our tab weighs about 5 grams including the packaging.
Our result does not yet allow us to say anything about the full PCF of our tab: the material procurement & pre-processing phase will probably cause the most emissions, but we have not yet been able to calculate these.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
We want to have our assumptions and calculations validated by an independent body as soon as possible. TÜV Rheinland therefore started validating our calculations and assumptions on CO2e savings in transport in October 2022. If you want to learn more, check here. We will of course continue to keep you updated. Also, when we have been able to calculate more parts of the PCF for our cleaning tabs and compare them with a conventional liquid cleaner, we will share this with you here.
We are aware that raw materials cause a significant part of the emissions of our products, so we are currently looking for experts with whom we can jointly model the carbon footprint of our raw materials, as unfortunately there is not enough information available in the existing databases.
In addition, we not only want to know the PCF of our cleaning tabs, but we also want to carry out a life cycle assessment (LCA) to understand all the environmental impacts of the product. Of course, the next step is then to analyze where we can still improve. Our goal is to eventually determine PCFs or even conduct LCAs for all products.
The whole topic of PCF is and will remain a work in progress. We want to bring you along with us as we make this progress. Therefore, we will continuously publish our findings here. Maybe we can inspire other companies to be more transparent. Do you have any questions or comments about our PCF calculations? We’re happy to hear from you!