Leading the Way: Busch Systems' Carbon Footprinting Journey Begins
Busch Systems is a company driven by a clear and compelling vision - to create positive change in the world through recycling and waste diversion programs.
As a leading supplier of waste & recycling containers, their primary business goals revolve around environmental responsibility, innovation, and empowering customers to make informed choices.
To further these goals, Busch Systems partnered with CarbonGraph to begin a journey of quantifying and reducing the lifecycle carbon footprints of their products.
Goals of The Project
- Environmental Improvements: Identify areas within the lifecycle of their products where environmental improvements could be made. This includes pinpointing materials with lower carbon emissions as well as optimizing transportation and warehousing activities.
- Customer Empowerment: Provide customers with comprehensive information about the carbon footprint of the products they are interested in. This transparency enables customers to make informed purchase decisions aligned with their environmental values. It is a core differentiator for partners with sustainable procurement requirements.
How CarbonGraph Helped
CarbonGraph's LCA platform proved to be an indispensable tool throughout Busch Systems' carbon footprinting journey. The platform facilitated data management, streamlined calculations, and provided a user-friendly interface for modelling and visualizing product lifecycles.
Moreover, CarbonGraph's consulting team worked closely with Busch Systems to provide guidance and support, ensuring that the results were an accurate representation of their supply chain.
The Carbon Footprinting Journey
To achieve a comprehensive understanding of their product carbon footprints, Busch Systems & CarbonGraph adopted a systematic methodology which follows the four steps below:
- Goal & Scope Definition: Establish the purpose and objectives of the study. This includes:
- Identifying the boundary limits of the assessment.
- Identifying the functional unit, or the benefit of the product upon which comparisons can be drawn. For example: 1 Bin Lifecycle.
- Intended users of the model results. For example: internal/external stakeholders, procurement teams, compliance reporting, etc.
- Constructing the Lifecycle Inventory: Collect data on all material and energy inputs and outputs associated with each life cycle stage. This includes:
- Constructing a lifecycle map of all activities in the product's lifecycle that contribute substantial emissions.
- Engaging suppliers and customer to collect primary data on key supply chain steps.
- Filling primary data gaps with CarbonGraph reference data sourced from the leading LCA data providers.
- Completing the Impact Assessment: Evaluate the potential environmental impacts associated with the lifecycle inventory.
- This step is conducted automatically within CarbonGraph.
- Environmental impacts & hotspots are always available as the model is being constructed.
- Interpreting the Results: Interpret and evaluate the results of the impact assessments in the context of the defined goals and scope. For example:
- "Am I done modelling? Is this good-enough for my goals?"
- "What are the impact hotspots? Can I get better data?"
- "Where can we focus to most efficiently reduce our impact?"
As implied by the phrase "Carbon Footprinting Journey," product lifecycle assessments are not a one-time task. The model should be iterated upon until all material supply chain elements are included.
Busch Systems continues to own the footprint model and makes periodic updates as their operations change and as suppliers improve their own sustainability understanding.
The Challenges & How CarbonGraph Supports
CarbonGraph exists to streamline the product lifecycle assessment process and has a number of capabilities to ease common project challenges. Here are some of the key challenges noted from this particular engagement.
- Scope 3 Tracking: Accounting for indirect emissions and impacts throughout the supply chain, which can be very complex, data-intensive, and often requires stakeholder collaboration.
- CarbonGraph partners have the ability to confidentially share the results of their lifecycle assessments directly with stakeholders. This distributes the effort to trace scope 3 across all stakeholders in a supply chain.
- Secondary Data Coverage: Where primary data is not available, secondary data plays a key role in the modelling process. In some cases sufficiently accurate or specific references cannot be found in the pre-loaded datasets.
- CarbonGraph is integrated with the peer-reviewed secondary LCA datasets which can be incorporated into our partner's models. These datasets continue to improve.
- When gaps are uncovered the CarbonGraph consulting team is available to research and build missing references.
- Time-Demands of Footprinting Many Products: Analyzing and calculating the carbon footprint for a large number of diverse products or processes can be extremely time-consuming and resource-intensive.
- CarbonGraph has a "duplicate" feature which allows for the construction of lifecycle assessment templates which can be used as modular "building blocks" for future footprints. This effectively means, modelling supply chain components only once, and re-using them in multiple downstream footprints. Changes to any component footprint will propagate through the entire model network.
- Interpreting Findings: Making sense of the "key takeaways" has historically been challenging. How do you understand the significance of various supply chain elements and identifying actionable insights?
- CarbonGraph has built-in tools for hotspot and sensitivity analysis of every product. Often we find that even the act of building the model reveals these "key" findings.
- Demonstrating Transparency: Ensuring transparency throughout the footprinting process, including data sources, assumptions, and methodologies, is essential for credibility and accountability, but it can be challenging to maintain.
- CarbonGraph has a public-facing product dashboard or environmental report which can be produced for every model to display key context and results.
- Documentation of the models can be done at the process or activity level.
By overcoming these challenges with the support of CarbonGraph, Busch Systems was able to navigate the intricacies of carbon footprint analysis and use the insights to drive positive change in their operations.
Busch Systems publishes carbon footprint data for their B2B consumers, and provides an overview of their LCA methodology for prospective buyers. Carbon footprints were also integrated into their product pages and data sheets, providing direct links to the underlying models on CarbonGraph's website.
The next step involved collaborating with their Operations and R&D Teams to assess the data and identify opportunities for carbon footprint reduction. Key findings included:
- Quantifying the benefit of using carbon footprint of post-consumer recycled plastic, prompting their R&D Team to explore increased usage of this material in their products.
- Quantifying the benefit of sourcing materials locally, as well as the emissions reduction associated with their 'Made in North America' initiative.
Megan McKibbon, Senior Operations Manager, reflected on the significance of this project:
"Tracking the carbon footprint of our products with CarbonGraph, from cradle to grave, has allowed us to quantify each step of the lifecycle in a way that will allow us to not only optimize our operations and warehousing but communicate openly with customers and vendors about our environmental impact; broadening the sustainability conversation with suppliers and customers alike."
How did the Market Respond?
Busch Systems' expectations regarding market response were exceeded. Their environmentally conscious customers welcomed the transparency and detailed information provided. This initiative empowered customers to make more sustainable choices, aligning with Busch Systems' values.
Within just a few hours of sharing this information with their customers, Busch Systems received enthusiastic responses. The following quote is from a Busch Systems customer:
"This is AWESOME! Wish every vendor would do this, would make Scope 3 tracking so much easier. Stellar work from Busch [Systems] as always!"
Busch Systems' commitment to environmental responsibility and innovation in carbon footprinting has not only allowed them to optimize their operations but has also empowered their customers to make eco-conscious choices in line with net zero strategies.
This project exemplifies their dedication to leading through innovation and creating positive change in the world.
Thank you to the entire Busch Systems team!