Comparison: Product LCA/carbon footprint software for Packaging

By

Zazala Quist

On

October 30, 2023

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Zazala Quist

In this comparison overview, we take you through the different LCA and carbon footprint tools for packaging, and their specific purpose - including our own software Pickler.

Packaging companies increasingly need a credible answer to the question ‘why is your packaging sustainable’? While a “promise it is!” used to be enough, this isn’t sufficient anymore. 

With greenwashing accusations lurking around every corner - sustainability legislation, investors, business clients, and consumers want transparent proof of your packaging’s sustainability. The main requirement: product environmental footprint data.

Product LCA- or carbon footprint software helps you calculate the footprint of your packaging yourself. 

In this blog, we help speed up your search for the right software. We cover:

  1. Quick glossary
  2. 5 reasons packaging companies want footprint data
  3. Overview: Product LCA/carbon footprint software comparison
  4. How to choose the right software

Quick glossary:

The sustainability world is notorious for difficult terms - often used interchangeably. Some important terms used in this article:

  • Environmental footprint: The environmental impact of a product calculated over its full life cycle via a Life Cycle Assessment method. It covers a wide range of environmental impact categories, including the carbon footprint. 
  • LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) software: Software that calculates the environmental footprint of a product via the scientific method for footprinting: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Includes all impact categories (impact on ecosystems, human health, etc.), including the carbon footprint.  
  • Carbon footprint software: Software that calculates the carbon impact of a product via a Life Cycle Assessment method. It summarizes the footprint of all greenhouse gasses into one impact category, expressed in CO2-eq.

Who needs this overview?

This overview is for professionals in packaging companies of all sorts who need- or want to calculate the environmental footprint of their packaging. 

Reasons why you’d want to can vary. Let’s dive into that. 

4 reasons packaging companies need footprint data (LCAs)

Generally, there are 4 main reasons why you would look for product LCA- or carbon footprint software: 

1. Sustainability reporting 

a) To calculate the baseline for your offering’s environmental footprint (approx. 90% of your scope 3 impact) and set impact reduction targets accordingly. 

b) Annually re-calculate the footprint of your offering and monitor your progress.

2. Sales 

a) To provide footprint data of packaging purchases for demanding customers (e.g. help them comply with the CSRD). In line with sustainability legislation.

b) To improve your sales services and help your customers reduce their impact with your offering.

*Note: this use case requires compliance with anti-greenwashing regulations (e.g. ACM’s rules or EU’s Green Claims Directive).

3. Marketing

To showcase your sustainable frontrunner position in the industry by transparently disclosing your packaging’s footprint data. 

*Note: this use case requires compliance with anti-greenwashing regulations (e.g. ACM’s rules or EU’s Green Claims Directive).

4. Ecodesign

To dive into the details of your packaging’s environmental footprint. Using these insights internally to improve the environmental footprint of its design and corresponding processes, over the packaging’s entire life cycle. Often these insights are alsoused by technical professionals or product designer to gain in-depth inisghts and create internal awareness for important products.

Commercial vs non-commercial use

Please note; as soon as you use footprint results to make any sort of commercial claim, advice- or communications in your sales or marketing, your footprint results (and preferably your software) need to comply with national and EU anti-greenwashing regulations. E.g. the Dutch ACM and EU's Green Claims Directive. Check your national anti-greenwashing regulations to know which rules apply in your country.

Read our guidelines on how to further prevent greenwashing here

LCA/Product Footprint software comparison for packaging

The overview below includes a comparison between the most-used LCA and carbon footprint software tools in packaging for the 4 use cases mentioned above.

LCA/carbon footprint software comparison - Packaging.

How does Pickler fit into the LCA/carbon footprint software landscape?

Traditional LCA tools provide valuable in-depth footprint reports fit for scientific studies and internal corporate use such as Ecodesign or Reporting. However, they are costly, difficult to scale or reproduce, and not fit to be used for commercial claims as they do not comply with the latest anti-greenwashing legislation. 

Pickler is the only LCA-based footprint tool completely tailored to packaging as well as sharing science-based footprint results in line with the Dutch ACM and EU's Green Claim Directive.

Pickler's packaging algorythms and database Idemat enable packaging suppliers, wholesalers, or resellers (who often lack supplier data) with an easy start to credible footprinting, as well as make footprint calculations of complete portfolios.

We do not allow choosing (or cherry picking') different LCA standards, methods or databases, as this prohibits fair product comparisons in the industry. Our independent, standardized LCA-based method enables a fair level-playing field in packaging, with transparent, verifiable, and comparable results. 

Find the best use cases for Pickler compared to other LCA software in the table above.

Which LCA/Product Footprint software do you choose?

There are many great LCA and carbon footprint tools out there all serving different needs. Make sure you analyze your primary need for product footprinting - and find the right software accordingly. 

E.g. A packaging manufacturer who wants to reduce the environmental footprint (Ecodesign) of its bestselling packaging product might choose Gabi or Ecochain Mobius. However, a packaging reseller who wants to make environmental claims for its entire portfolio on its e-commerce, could best use Pickler. 

However, by no means does one software exclude the other due to different use cases. For example, we sometimes see Pickler users use both ‘traditional’ LCA tools as well as Pickler to serve different purposes within their company.

Need help or advice on what tool(s) fits you best? Reach out to sales to see if Pickler is the match for your needs. 

Zazala Quist

Head of growth

Hi, I'm Zazala - Head of Growth at Pickler. I've worked in impact measurements for many years and experienced first hand how difficult it can be for businesses to start. My goal: share my practical knowledge to make environmental sustainability accessible and understandable to business. Have questions about this topic or just want to chat? Reach out to me via email or LinkedIn!

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