Back 22.06.2023

Carbon handprint — what benefits can companies achieve?


You may have heard about the carbon footprint, but what does the carbon handprint mean? A company’s carbon handprint is a relatively unknown concept for many so far, although there is already a lot of talk about the potential benefits. Finland’s ambitious climate goals to be carbon neutral by 2035 have created the need to create carbon handprint descriptions for many different industrial sectors, and to create a direction for the sustainability of companies. Instead on having no impact on the environment, why not start having a positive one?

On the contrary to the carbon footprint, the carbon handprint indicates the emission reduction achieved by the product or service. The potential handprint is determined by comparing the new low-carbon solution to the industry standard. When the carbon footprint of the new solution is smaller than the industry standard, the new low-carbon solution reduces the customer’s or society’s carbon footprint.

A handprint can be achieved by taking voluntary actions that help minimize a product’s footprint, for example using resources more efficiently, using renewable energy or the sharing economy, using less polluting means of movement and reducing waste. The customer is always in the center, because handprints reduce the customer’s footprint.

What are the most important drivers and purposes of use of carbon handprint work for companies?

Companies’ carbon handprint information is utilized both internally and externally. Internally, handprint data is used to support decision-making and guide product development decisions. On the other hand, handprint information is also used as a value creation and marketing tool. It can add value to the company’s product and give it a competitive advantage. In addition, handprint information is perceived as an effective and fact-based way of communicating to external stakeholders about the added value the company produces for its customers. It is clear it is increasingly used in investment decision-making and funding applications.

For startups and SMEs, the carbon handprint can basically be the core of the business idea and strategy. For these companies, investor relations and obtaining financing are often key factors for which handprint information can be utilized. More established and larger companies use handprint data most often in the development of a product range with a lower carbon footprint and as a tool for distinguishing themselves from competitors.

There are no harmonized calculation standards for a company’s carbon handprint

Although there are many opportunities to utilize the carbon handprint, it should be noted that, unlike the carbon footprint, there are no harmonized calculation standards for the company’s carbon handprint. However, fact-based data and calculations are crucial and must be present, especially when making claims about environmental benefits.

Transparency therefore plays a central role in communication. It should be ensured that the new low-carbon solution does not cause negative effects on other areas of sustainability. Achieving a significant carbon handprint often also requires close cooperation within the industry, with stakeholders, competitors and political decision-makers.

Instead on having no impact on the environment, you can start having a positive one

The handprint describes the company’s positive impact and the potential to increase it is “limitless”, while the footprint can be reduced “only” to zero. Despite this, for the time being, companies largely focus on minimizing the negative effects of their operations, and taking positive climate effects into account is not yet a very common practice. However, many companies want to minimize their own carbon footprint, as well as prepare for the entry into force of the CSRD and regulations on avoidable emissions. Therefore, companies that have a carbon handprint and are able to communicate this convincingly to their customers can gain a significant competitive advantage.

Read more about a positive impact: Susformation |

Circular Economy, Biodiversity, Corporate Responsibility, Sustainable Business Models, Sustainable Food Systems, Business Development and Business Strategies, Innovation Management and Innovation Processes, Marketing and Communication

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