Fore Thinking

The European Union’s (EU) Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals include limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This goal was established primarily to limit environmental damage caused by climate change.

To achieve this goal, companies are implementing various strategies, more or less effective. Of these, we want to compare two, ecodesign and CO2 compensation.

A carbon credit is defined as a tradable, and therefore purchasable, authorization for companies to emit one ton of CO2. The road to compensation involves several steps:

  • SETTING THE COMPENSATION PROJECT: A project is established to mitigate global warming. There are multiple projects that prevent the release of greenhouse gases but are not aimed at removing carbon from the atmosphere.
  • CALCULATION OF CREDITS: carbon credits are calculated by different methods, highlighting the difference between what happens and what could happen, in terms of credits.
  • COMPANY IMPLEMENTING A NET ZERO STRATEGY: Companies calculate the emissions produced each year by their activities. As a result, to achieve the net zero goal, along with trying to reduce CO2 emissions, some of them decide to purchase carbon offsets.
  • COMPANY SEEKS CARBON CREDITS: Some companies obtain carbon credits through a special broker, others refer projects directly. Most offsets are approved by Verra and Gold Standard. These credits are used to offset emissions, allowing substantial net reductions to be declared.
  • BUSINESS MAKES CLAIM FOR CLIMATE OFFSET: Once the business has calculated the amount of carbon it wants to offset, it purchases the equivalent amount in credits. Many then claim that the company or product they sell has become carbon neutral.

Taking cognizance of the problematic climate situation in which the Planet pours, this market was born as a tool in the hands of companies to make up for their environmental footprint (or carbon footprint).

However, it is important to note that CO2 offsetting should not be seen as a final solution to address climate change, much less as a tool for misleading consumer communication about product neutrality (see European green claim rules).

On the contrary, it is crucial to directly reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency, adoption of renewable energy, reduction of fossil fuel consumption, and, above all else, reduction of waste of fossil-derived materials.

One of the useful methods to effectively reduce CO2 emissions is ecodesign. When we talk about ecodesign, we refer to “the systematic integration of environmental aspects into product design with the aim of improving the environmental performance of the product throughout its life cycle” (Waste Framework Directive, 98/2008/EC).

From a practical point of view, it is intended to make environmentally sustainable products and services with a very low environmental impact, so the steps to follow in this case are as follows:

1) the company assesses with scientific tools (LCA/chemical screening) what is the impact of its products/services and the entire production chain, including the end of life of products;
2) identified critical impact points, researches and experiments with new solutions to zero and reduce the impact of its products/services;
3) the enterprise realizes a new product/service with near-zero impact using “eco-design” tools and processes;
4) communicates the results of its efforts and the environmental declaration, with third-party verification, of the new product/service or improvements in progress (this is the EPD – Environmental Product Declaration).


The innovative “Forethinking© Method” includes integrated skills to guide companies in innovation processes for eco-sustainability; market focus on innovation opportunities and eco-sustainable new product development, analysis of critical environmental aspects for product/service redesign (Environmental Hotspots Life Cycle Assessment), eco-design assisted by parametric LCA model and chemical/structural screening of materials, new materials research, innovation finance, industrial design and research.

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