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Long-term goals

ORTLIEB is committed to reporting authentically and transparently on its sustainability efforts. As we understand it, this also implies having to make the impacts of our products, known as the Product Carbon Footprint, visible and measurable. This will then allow us to determine where we need to make adjustments to reduce the footprint still further and thus achieve our long-term goal of lowering it to zero by 2030 if possible.
In our view, however, this also means that we want to carry out an honest calculation, recording real values wherever possible rather than just a rough calculation based on database values. Consequently, as a first project, data for our signature product, the Back-Roller Classic, were collected, analyzed and calculated as part of a Master’s thesis. To do this, every individual part, literally every screw and every hook, was examined in collaboration with our suppliers to determine the CO2 equivalent that it caused.

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Raw materials for ORTLIEB products

ORTLIEB Co²e calculation

What is the CO2e footprint? In short, it describes the quantity of CO2 equivalents that are created in the manufacture of a product along the various phases of its life cycle, which in our case means from extracting the raw materials through to the finished product.

To create understanding and comparability, it is necessary to clearly define what is included in the calculation of the CO2e footprint and what is not. Specifically, this means which phases of a product life cycle were considered and to what extent the impacts were calculated.

The following chart shows where we have set the limits for our calculation. Here it is necessary to consider individual emission factors where the assumption of average values cannot be avoided. At ORTLIEB, for example, this also concerns employees’ journeys to work, which, depending on the location, have a large impact on our assessment. In such cases, we always adopt a more conservative approach than is necessary in our calculation. Where the employees’ journeys to work are concerned, all routes are calculated as if the entire workforce travelled to ORTLIEB by car even though they may take part in car sharing arrangements or travel to work by bike or train.

carbon footprint calculation chart
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The verification of the carbon footprint is carried out using scientific methods and is based on data from reliable sources. The use of a standardized protocol to calculate the carbon footprint of the Back Roller ensures a high level of comparability with other products, which is an important basis for preparing sustainability reports and identifying optimization potential

In this method, we have considered all phases, from the extraction of our raw materials, via the transport operations and deliveries, through to the manufacture and packaging of the finished products. The technical term for this is cradle to gate, in other words from the actual source to the factory gate.

Why indeed? After all, this is the time when our bags actually start doing their work. The next step in the calculation process, therefore, will involve extending it to cover the entire life cycle of the products, finishing with the disposal of the particular bag. At the moment, we calculate at product level through to the final finished bag. The shipping routes of the finished products do of course differ, depending on where they are to be sold. This makes it hard for us to calculate the value per bag. Added to this is the fact that, first of all, we want to gather and evaluate data for the use phase of our products, which proves to be similarly difficult. We are not yet able to clearly define the pattern of usage and handling of the bags and present this meaningfully in a CO2e footprint. However, one point in favor of our products is that they are largely used with bicycles. This has a positive effect on both health and on the CO2e footprint if emission-intensive vehicles are avoided at the same time. For every product, we therefore give a rough indication of the distance that would have to be travelled by car (or NOT, as the case may be) in order to emit the same quantity of CO2 equivalents as has been generated for the respective product along the life cycle phases described above. Another important factor to obtain a complete picture of the environmental impacts of our product is that of disposal. Here we are working hard to close this gap and include the impacts during this phase in the calculation.

The calculation includes the following sources:

Scope 1:

direct emissions from the heating of buildings, company vehicles, refrigerant leaks

Scope 2:

indirect emissions from bought-in energy (electricity supply)

Scope 3:

indirect emissions from waste management, water/sewage treatment, business trips, employee travel to and from work and all resources and raw materials used

The CO2e footprint indicated on the product page then contains the emissions from the sources mentioned above and within the defined calculation limits. The value always applies to the finished sales unit.

To make the calculation possible for the more than 400 products, we came up with a method that is based on several calculation standards and guidelines. This methodology originated from a preceding Master’s thesis in which the CO2e footprint was calculated for one bag. Here we were able to clearly identify where our focus lies in the quantity of emissions and where we have to direct our attention in order to expand the calculation. Using this approach in the calculation of our figures gives a clearly definable distinction between the Corporate Carbon Footprint and Product Carbon Footprint (according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol). Unfortunately, this approach also makes it difficult to certify the values with the aid of a specific standard. To ensure that our values and calculations are nevertheless correct, we have had our methodology and the conversion factors we used scrutinized by the renowned climate protection organization myclimate.

On this basis and by integrating every single raw material with its CO2e emissions into our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, we are now in a position where we can display an up-to-date CO2e footprint for every product and evaluate various materials and resources throughout the product range on the basis of the impacts they have. This establishes the perfect foundation for us to make the correct decisions when selecting materials in the future.

Why do we stop at the finished product?

Why indeed? After all, this is the time when our bags actually start doing their work. The next step in the calculation process, therefore, will involve extending it to cover the entire life cycle of the products, finishing with the disposal of the particular bag. At the moment, we calculate at product level through to the final finished bag. The shipping routes of the finished products do of course differ, depending on where they are to be sold. This makes it hard for us to calculate the value per bag. Added to this is the fact that, first of all, we want to gather and evaluate data for the use phase of our products, which proves to be similarly difficult. We are not yet able to clearly define the pattern of usage and handling of the bags and present this meaningfully in a CO2e footprint. However, one point in favor of our products is that they are largely used with bicycles.

This has a positive effect on both health and on the CO2e footprint if emission-intensive vehicles are avoided at the same time. For every product, we therefore give a rough indication of the distance that would have to be travelled by car (or NOT, as the case may be) in order to emit the same quantity of CO2 equivalents as has been generated for the respective product along the life cycle phases described above. Another important factor to obtain a complete picture of the environmental impacts of our product is that of disposal. Here we are working hard to close this gap and include the impacts during this phase in the calculation.

The calculation includes the following sources:

Scope 1:

direct emissions from the heating of buildings, company vehicles, refrigerant leaks

Scope 2:

indirect emissions from bought-in energy (electricity supply)

Scope 3:

indirect emissions from waste management, water/sewage treatment, business trips, employee travel to and from work and all resources and raw materials used

The CO2e footprint indicated on the product page then contains the emissions from the sources mentioned above and within the defined calculation limits. The value always applies to the finished sales unit.

Calculating for more than 400 products

To make the calculation possible for the more than 400 products, we came up with a method that is based on several calculation standards and guidelines. This methodology originated from a preceding Master’s thesis in which the CO2e footprint was calculated for one bag. Here we were able to clearly identify where our focus lies in the quantity of emissions and where we have to direct our attention in order to expand the calculation. Using this approach in the calculation of our figures gives a clearly definable distinction between the Corporate Carbon Footprint and Product Carbon Footprint (according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol). Unfortunately, this approach also makes it difficult to certify the values with the aid of a specific standard. To ensure that our values and calculations are nevertheless correct, we have had our methodology and the conversion factors we used scrutinized by the renowned climate protection organization myclimate.

To ensure that our values and calculations are nevertheless correct, we have had our methodology and the conversion factors we used scrutinized by the renowned climate protection organization myclimate.

On this basis and by integrating every single raw material with its CO2e emissions into our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, we are now in a position where we can display an up-to-date CO2e footprint for every product and evaluate various materials and resources throughout the product range on the basis of the impacts they have. This establishes the perfect foundation for us to make the correct decisions when selecting materials in the future.

A look into the future

What comes next? As a first step, the calculation is to be expanded to all phases of the product life cycle in order to obtain a complete picture. And in the next step, the calculation method is to be designed in such a way that the environmental impacts considered can be extended to cover other areas too, so that in future it will be possible to calculate a complete life cycle assessment for all of our products.

True story