In a first of its kind initiative, CDP (previously Carbon Disclosure Project) collected the largest publicly available set of supply chain data from suppliers and their corporate customers across the world. The initiative, titled, the "Supply Chain Program", involved over 75 global organizations and 4005 responding suppliers.
The “Supply Chain Program” began in 2013 and asked corporations to report on supply chain operations to increase their supply chain awareness and set targets to reduce the largest load of carbon emissions buried in those chains. By ranking companies on how they manage their supply chains, CDP enables companies such as Unilever and Walmart to better engage with suppliers to reduce their overall emissions. In turn, global multi-nationals driving the worldwide product business have made emissions reduction a point of competition among suppliers, as they strive to reduce emissions and attract the trillions of dollars of buying power held by these multi-nationals.
In the quest to reduce emissions, CDP invited its members to answer questions specifically around the life cycle of individual products - question SM3. Addressing issues such as how these products are made, how the material and components are transported, from what countries are they sourced and what energy do they use, illustrates the life cycle of a product and helps us understand the impact of those products from an environmental perspective.
To understand how the raw product data could be analyzed to inform strategic decisions, CDP collaborated with CoClear, experts in life cycle analytics, to provide greater insight into sector and product-level emissions and their impact. CoClear ran detailed analytics of the Life cycle assessments (LCAs) of 546 products (170 in 2013, 185 in 2014 and 191 in 2015) CoClear released a study on the product-level emissions titled “Achieving Higher Value Chain Efficiency Through Product Life Cycle Analytics” and available on the website. http://www.coclear.co/latest-report/
CoClear will share with students a copy of the product level data collected by CDP with their data analytics applied to it. The CoClear analysis revealed several important findings:
Upwards of two thirds of life cycle emissions and thus efficiency improvement potential tend to be outside a company’s own operations
Sectors with low average carbon intensity (CI) typically have most of their product value chain emissions upstream whereas larger CI are driven by downstream emissions
Product improvements led to an average annual intensity reduction of 7%, thus ensuring absolute reduction is possible despite growth
Carrying out LCAs, the more granular the better, pays off: On average, companies with life cycle breakdowns of their products achieved about twice the product efficiency improvements as those with only product-level footprints (~9% v ~4%)
However, most companies still do not know or report their products’ emission changes
By creating a data visualization of these findings CoClear and CDP hope to share the primary findings in a visual form that is easy for companies to understand. What a study of a data set like this begins to answer is the business questions – what level of emissions and corresponding costs can really be saved by understanding what is going on in the entire supply chain?