The Carbon Handprint approach to assessing and communicating the positive climate impact of products: Final Report of the Carbon Handprint project

Saija Vatanen, Tiina Pajula, Hanna Pihkola, Katri Behm, Catharina Hohenthal, Kaisa Grönman, Risto Soukka, Heli Kasurinen, Jani Sillman, Maija Leino

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    Currently, there is a lack of methods for calculating and communicating the beneficial environmental impacts of products and services. To fill this gap, this report presents a new approach for calculating the positive climate impact of a product or service – the carbon handprint. The purpose of the carbon handprint approach is to assess and communicate the positive climate impact of products and services, thereby incentivizing environmentally responsible practices and enabling informed choices.

    The core of the suggested approach involves comparing the carbon footprint of an improved product with the carbon footprint of the baseline product, and subsequently calculating the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that can be achieved by using the improved product. The carbon handprint approach is founded on the standardized life cycle assessment methodology for footprints and provides a framework for identifying climate impacts in the actual operational environment.

    Methodological development is based on seven industrial case studies, in which carbon handprints of different products, services, and technologies are assessed. These case studies, carried out with AM Finland, AO-allover, Biolan, KONE, Neste, Nokia, and Paptic, are presented in this report.

    Organizations can use carbon handprints to quantify the greenhouse gas reductions that their customers can achieve by using certain products. The carbon handprint can thus serve as a powerful tool in communications and marketing. By conducting carbon handprint assessments, a company can also find out how their product qualifies in comparison to baseline products. Carbon handprints can therefore also support decision-making and lifelong product design.

    Through further research, the carbon handprint methodology can be adjusted to also cover other environmental impacts. Aspects to consider include different spatial scales of impacts and quantitative and qualitative aspects of material and energy flows. Quantitative and quantifiable qualitative environmental impacts could be the starting point for extension of the methodology to other environmental impacts. A more extensive view of environmental handprints could help avoid trade-offs between beneficial impacts.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages74
    ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-8679-0
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Technology


    • handprint
    • footprint
    • carbon handprint
    • carbon footprint
    • positive environmental impact
    • life cycle assessment


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