When can a company claim to be carbon neutral? What are the ways in which carbon neutrality can be achieved? How can the positive environmental impacts of circular economy solutions be identified and shown? VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, LUT University, Business Finland, and a group of companies have launched a two-year research project aimed at promoting competitiveness among Finnish companies on international markets.
The Carbon neutrality empowered by handprint project promotes business opportunities and competitiveness among Finnish companies by developing procedures at the international level to reliably and credibly indicate 1) carbon neutrality and 2) the positive environmental impacts of circular economy solutions.
The solutions are developed for utilisation both nationally and internationally, to be ensured by an international scientific steering group, and through participation in work to establish ISO standards for carbon neutrality and circular economy.
In addition to VTT, LUT University, and Business Finland, participants in the work include a group of other Finnish companies from diverse fields: Neste, Fortum, Borealis, Konecranes, Hartwall, Martela, Urbaser, HyXo and Höyrytys. VTT and LUT University are developing procedures in close cooperation with the participating businesses. Methods are being developed and tested with the help of products and solutions from the companies.
“An unambiguous, internationally approved concept of carbon neutrality and reliable indication of the environmental benefits of circular economy solutions enable businesses to build a consistent environmental strategy while systematically reducing emissions in a way that promotes business activities. Both approaches support adapting to a changing operating environment, helping companies stand out, and commercialising new solutions and international exports faster”, says the project manager, Saija Vatanen of VTT.
On a market with global competition, it is important to stand out to gain a competitive edge
Responsibility and sustainability in business are at the core of international business, and pioneer status must be reliably demonstrable. However, so far there has been no established method for determining carbon neutrality for individual actors. Lacking a standardised and scientifically confirmed procedure, very different kinds of approaches have been used in the quest for carbon neutrality.
The fight against climate change requires solutions that Finnish companies are creating through their R&D activities in the cleantech and circular economy sectors, for example.
“LUT University and VTT have done pioneering work in the development of handprint methodology, which indicates environmental benefits. Our current goal is to expand previously developed methods for the identification and communication of the environmental benefits of circular economy solutions. Approaches to be developed can also be utilised in the development and marketing of companies other than the ones that are participating in the project”, says Kaisa Grönman, a postdoctoral researcher at LUT University.