Carbon emissions controls

Packaging Professional magazine
17 Nov 2008

UK companies are moving closer to facing mandatory reporting and limits on their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions following the passing of the third reading of the Climate Change Bill by the House of Commons on 28 October. This follows the launch of a voluntary standard on calculating carbon emissions, as well as news that the Government is set to publish a review of packaging policy that could include a carbon count.

The Climate Change Bill has raised the target of carbon emission reduction in the UK to 80% by 2050. It has tasked Government ministers with developing guidance by 2012 on how companies should report their GHG emissions to create a common standard, which could become mandatory.

The Bill also set a target for reducing all six of the GHGs listed in the Kyoto Accord - not just carbon dioxide (CO2). This means limits will also be placed on methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluroide.

Further amendments to the legislation will be discussed between the House of Lords and Commons on 17 November before being enacted into law.

Meanwhile, the British Standards Institute has released guidance on how to calculate a product or service’s embedded GHG emissions throughout its lifecycle. The publicly available specification (PAS) 2050 has been piloted with 75 product ranges by companies such as PepsiCo, Boots, Tesco, Coors Brewers and The Co-operative Group.

The standard assesses the impact of GHG emissions arising from the 100 years following a product’s
formation. Its footprint is the sum of all materials, energy and waste used and produced in its lifecycle, multiplied by its CO2 emissions per unit.

A joint statement from members of the metal packaging sector, including the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, the British Aerosols Manufacturers Association and Apeal, notes that the sector ‘appears able to support the proposed methodology.

'Concerns had been expressed that the specification may not fully credit recycled products produced from a material-to-material loop process’, but the group was satisfied that such products were being addressed by the inclusion in the PAS 2050 of international standards already used for those containers.

The Government’s review of packaging, which experts fear will include elements of carbon footprinting - rather than weight-based - environmental analysis, will be published in mid-November. A
consultation on the policy proposals are expected to begin in 2009.

Further information: BSI and Defra