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Tracking Product Life Cycle Carbon Footprint - The New Norm for Sustainable Transitions

A more resource-efficient, climate-neutral, and pollution-free circular economy calls for more sustainable products. According to the latest studies from the EU Commission, a 70% increase in waste generation is foreseen by 2050, and over 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress is caused by resource extraction and processing. While up to 80% of a product’s environmental impacts can be determined at the design phase.

Building compliance pressures has set a new sustainable transition front for businesses’ product strategies, as organizations grapple with the imperative to reduce their environmental impact. Research from The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment by Sala, S., Amadei, A.M., Beylot, A. et al. found LCT (life cycle thinking), LCC (life cycle costing), LCA (life cycle assessment) and/or the European Product and Organisation Environmental Footprint (PEF/OEF) were “at the heart” in 60% of the EU policies since 2000.

For example, the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is putting a price on the carbon emitted during the production of carbon-intensive goods entering the EU to encourage cleaner industrial production in non-EU countries. The policy tool has triggered global actions, especially from the EU’s key trading partners introducing new policy measures in response to such challenges to ensure the fair transition for sustainable products entering the international markets. The priority is to understand and manage the product life cycle carbon footprint. More information about EU CBAM policy and details of the reporting requirements during the transition period can be found in our previous research: Navigating the Transition: A Guide to EU’s CBAM Reporting Rules.

Product Life Cycle Carbon Footprint 101 can be found in our previous research here. Check out our previous research on “What to know before starting a Product Life Cycle Assessment?” to discover more about product LCA.

The Roadmap to Mainstream Product Carbon Footprint for China’s Green Transitions

As a part of China’s broader strategy to transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon economy and to meet global standards in response to the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (read more about CBAM here), the country has announced a new directive to calculate and label the full life cycle of a product’s carbon footprint for key products. The directive set a goal to create carbon footprint accounting rules and standards for 50 products by 2025 and specify the rules for another 200 products by 2030 as announced in November 2023. While the document does not specify these “key products”, it aims to expand the coverage to 200 items by 2030 and build a national database to include carbon footprint data from key industries. The key measures and tasks set in the directive include the following:

  • Formulate product carbon accounting rules and standards

  • Establish a database of product carbon footprint

  • Benchmark product carbon footprint performance against domestic and international peers

  • Create product carbon footprint certifications and labelling system

  • Identify areas for improvement in energy efficiency and emission reductions

  • Incorporate carbon footprints as a criterion for public procurement

  • Encourage consumers to purchase products with low carbon footprints

  • Increase global mutual recognition of product carbon footprint and calculation methodologies by enhancing standardised quantitative standards and databases, improving data quality, and protecting intellectual properties in the process.

Manufacturers of industrial products and consumer goods have started publishing life cycle assessment (LCA) data on their products using environmental product declarations (EPDs), which are becoming a recognized resource for calculating and documenting the embodied carbon and environmental footprint of products. As an EPD International AB listed LCA consultancy firm, GC Insights is working with leading sustainable partners on improving data qualities and helping more corporates and their associated products to gain global credentials to sustain their commitments towards responsible sourcing, sustainable production and low-carbon logistics among others.


The field of product life cycle carbon accounting is rapidly evolving, driven by market trends, compliance requirements and updates to key standards. Our ongoing product LCA research and regulatory analysis keeps businesses up-to-date with the new norms of product sustainable compliance. Our streamlined product sustainable solutions help businesses develop their competitive product transition strategies from eco-labels to eco-premiums.

Explore Our LCA Services Below:

•       Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Research

•       Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) Evaluation & Consultation Services

•       Consulting services & Technical Support in Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Applications

•       Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly Eco-Label Application Process


Contact us at for more customised product LCA and sustainable transition strategies.

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