Environmentalists like to point out that a person’s carbon footprint is about more than just the CO2 they emit through daily activities like driving or surfing the Internet. It extends to the goods they own, and even the food they eat. The same holds for most companies, Planet Metrics’ core user group for a new carbon information platform.
Companies’ hidden CO2 emissions tend to come from their supply chains, long tails of vendors and manufacturers that modern multinationals tap into for everything from individual parts in a device — Apple’s iPhone being one famous example — to outsourced labor and customer support. Most companies can’t even begin to estimate the amount of CO2 they’re indirectly responsible for.
Planet Metrics rounds up all these data points to give companies a view into how much carbon their business actually generates. The startup has collated thousands of studies by governments, universities and private researchers showing the life cycle inventory (LCI) of pretty much everything from raw materials to finished goods, as well as regional data like how electricity is generated in a given area.
Nobody else has gone that far to track CO2 yet, according to the company’s chief executive, Andy Leventhal. Of course, one might wonder why, if it’s so difficult to get carbon information, companies would bother at all. After all, why would a corporation go out of its way to learn about how it’s detrimental to the environment if no regulation is forcing it to?
Often, the answer is that companies want to be ahead of the curve. Most big corporations are convinced that carbon regulation is coming, and they want to have a good handle on how to react when it does. Leventhal also points to CO2 remediation as a “business driver” — eliminating wasteful processes can help streamline a company.
And, as the saying goes, information is power. Although that’s not strictly true in the case of CO2 emissions; just knowing that someone in your supply chain is spewing carbon into the atmosphere isn’t necessarily helpful. Often, the steps required to reduce emissions take years to enact — another reason for companies to get in on the game early.
Along with announcing its product, Planet Metrics has also disclosed a $2.3 million first investment from angel investors and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company is based in San Francisco, Calif.