Do companies have goals beyond the stuff they produce? We like to think so.
Measuring our carbon footprint is the first step towards reducing it.
We started off with scrap aluminum.
Not because it was ‘green’, but because it made sense.
Since 1944, we’ve used waste materials to make chairs with a long life. Our first chair, the 1006 Navy is built from recycled aluminum. With endless recyclability and life-time warranty, it's the ultimate in sustainability - and the standard we measure ourselves against. Now it's time to get to work on our carbon footprint.
So what does "carbon footprint" actually mean?
Think of carbon footprint measurement like a nutrition label, but for products.
Carbon footprint data shows the greenhouse gases (=CO2 emissions) that are emitted to create a product. As you know, all products have an impact on the environment. As you also know, we all need to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible, to minimize global warming. The better we understand the numbers, the better we can compare and evaluate the products we choose to surround ourselves with.
What do we measure?
We measure our impact starting from the creation of the product to the moment it leaves our factory. This is called "cradle-to-gate". We’ve opted for this model because of the challenges linked to providing accurate data for the myriad end-uses that occur after the products leave our factory. Included in our cradle-to-gate carbon footprint data are four things: Material, Transportation, Energy and Packaging.
Here we calculate the energy needed to produce the material itself. The energy output for virgin vs recycled material is vastly different, not least when it comes to aluminum which is one of our core materials. Using scrap material helps us keep our carbon footprint down - and diverts waste from landfills.
We get our cardboard boxes from a local supplier that uses recycled cardboard. The calculator takes into account the energy needed to produce that weight of cardboard at a typical factory in the United States in our region. In some cases, we use recycled plastic bags, and other packaging pieces to protect our products inside the cardboard box. We are continuously working on finding sustainable solutions for our packaging.
This is our largest contributor towards footprint and one we are continuously working on improving. It measures the energy needed to keep our Emeco Factory in Hanover, PA, warm and the machines running.
This measures the transport of raw materials from our suppliers to our factory. The calculation includes the fuel burnt using a medium sized truck to get the material from them to us. It also takes into account the local shipping from the cardboard box supplier to our factory. We warehouse everything on site, so there is no other transportation before the products are shipped to you.
How does our footprint measure up?
Although many chairs do not yet have carbon footprints, a typical footprint ranges from 30-60 kg CO2e. We’re pretty proud to compare our Navy chair (14.88 kg CO2e) to the average, but are still working on improving. Measuring our carbon footprint is the first step towards reducing it.
How do we calculate?
We measure our carbon footprint using the 2030 Calculator, developed by Doconomy. Our choice stems from the idea of accessible environmentalism - the idea that anyone should be able to measure and understand carbon footprinting. That being said, simplicity and ease is no substitution for exactitude of data. The Doconomy model is an accurate depiction of carbon footprint, and although straightforward, is focused on quality results.
It's on all of us.
We can all do our bit to sit more lightly on the planet. Refuse, Reduce, Recycle. Avoid virgin, single-use plastic. Choose products designed for a long life. Question before we buy.
At Emeco, we'll continue to do what we believe is right - "begin with what's left over, turn it into what will last" - and challenge ourselves, and others, to do more with less.