3 January 2008

IDC Addresses the CO2 in Santa’s Sack

As Santa squeezes down the chimneys of millions of households on Christmas Eve, he won't just be leaving sooty footprints in the front room. Leading product design consultancy, IDC (Industrial Design Consultancy), has just completed a Carbon Footprint Analysis of the top gifts likely to be on Christmas lists this year. The analysis creates estimates of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with all the stages from a product’s life, the materials it is made from, the manufacturing processes, transport, and the energy used by the product.

The results have revealed widely different carbon emissions, which should help consumers become more aware about the environmental impact of products. With growing consumer concern about carbon emissions, product designers and manufacturers are under growing pressure to start a new generation of more environmentally-friendly products.

But as IDC’s MD, Stephen Knowles explains, “Research shows that around 80% of the environmental impact of products is determined by the decisions made by the designers of the product. So while consumers can influence emissions with their buying decisions, the real breakthroughs occur when marketers, designers and engineers work together to create greener products with unique sales propositions.”

IDC’s Christmas list included the following products, which rung in at a total of 327 kgCO2*: V.Smile Baby 93 kgCO2 Philips Blender 62 kgCO2 Optimus Prime Helmet 42 kgCO2 Iggle Piggle 37 kgCO2 IPod nano 31 kgCO2 Trivial Pursuit ‘90s 21 kgCO2 Picoo Z 18 kgCO2 Gold Chain 15 kgCO2 Book: Happy Slapped by a Jellyfish 8 kgCO2

Devices with electronics gave the biggest carbon footprints, due to the great amount of energy required to produce the components and batteries and the energy they consume in use. At the other end of the scale, paper goods such as books and board games gave relatively small emissions.

The success of the Carbon Trust’s carbon labelling trial on many household products again signals the importance of environmentally-savvy product design. The Carbon Trust reports that the label trial was received so positively that it could soon become the norm.

As a successful product design consultancy, IDC is fully aware of the need to consider carbon footprint and the impact of products’ life cycles and is undertaking a number of initiatives in the field of sustainable design.

Despite the CO2 figures, product manufacturers can rest knowing that gifts may still be the lesser source of CO2 at Christmas, when you consider the energy required to cook the Christmas dinner, operate the Christmas lights and all the transport emissions from visiting relatives during the festive season.

Santa’s Sack