—— A product’s carbon footprint is becoming increasingly important for companies and the market. TÜV SÜD offers to verify this—and supports companies in gaining the trust of clients and consumers.


What was once a marketing campaign by the BP oil conglomerate is today an important indicator of sustainability: the ecological footprint. Instead of shifting the responsibility for climate change to private consumers alone, companies themselves must now deal with the consequences of their business activities for the environment. Along with the carbon footprint for companies as a whole, increasing numbers of manufacturers are also reporting such footprints for their individual products. First, many people want to know what impact their consumer behavior has on climate change. Secondly, attesting sustainability efforts can present a decisive advantage for suppliers when competing for customers. Some products are already expected to do this anyhow. For instance, the European Commission adopted a regulation last year that will require mandatory information about the carbon footprint of batteries. A digital product passport is also to be introduced in the EU. With the Green Claims Directive, there is now also a regulation that requires companies that make sustainability claims to back them up with evidence and through an independent audit.

Regardless of whether a company voluntarily calculates the carbon footprint of its products or is obliged to do so, there is a lot of data that is required from all stages of the supply chain. Unfortunately, many suppliers do not provide their clients with all the necessary data about their processes. The suppliers fear that they will be putting themselves in a worse position with respect to their competitors and so send their clients a single value that isn’t at all transparent. This isn’t helpful since the producers cannot check this figure.

This is precisely where TÜV SÜD comes into play: “Producers can open their books to us because we’re not seeking any market advantage for ourselves,” says Dr. Jonas Johannisson, the sustainability program development manager at TÜV SÜD Product Service, who is responsible for verifying the carbon footprint of products. “By taking on the verification as an independent testing company with a good reputation, we create trust between the market participants.” This means that suppliers do not have to disclose details about their production processes to their clients and the processing companies can be sure that the information sent to them is trustworthy.

TÜV SÜD has been offering verification in various regions of the world for the past three years. Around one hundred customers are already being supported by experts such as Johannisson.

“By taking on the verification as an independent testing company with a good reputation, we create trust between the market participants.”

The verification process is always the same: the customer commissions TÜV SÜD and submits a report (compliant to ISO standard 14067) for the carbon footprint of its product. TÜV SÜD audits the report and the underlying documents upon which it is based. “Sometimes our customers don’t receive the relevant data from their supply chains, so they have to resort to using secondary data and assumptions,” Johannisson says. TÜV SÜD also checks this data for its appropriateness, accuracy and validity.

Finally, during a factory visit, the experts get a first-hand look at the manufacturing processes. After all, a consistent impression is what counts for the TÜV SÜD team. As we head toward genuine ecological impact, transparency remains the most important key to shaping processes, products and consumer behavior in a sustainable and future-proof way.

Dr. Jonas Johannisson has been working as the sustainability program development manager for TÜV SÜD Product Service since March 2022. He studied chemistry and management at Ulm University, where he earned his doctorate.