We calculated the carbon footprint of our healthcare uniform from raw materials until the delivery to the customer.
At Touchpoint, we are committed to quality and ethical business practices, as well as continuous improvement. Our big target and ambition is to work towards a more One of our goals is a more environmentally friendly textile industry. That is why last spring we set a goal to find out what are the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the work clothing we produce. Although we know a lot about the topic, we decided in this case to turn to outside professionals to find out the carbon footprint for our product in accordance with ISO 14067: 2018. With the help of Clonet Oy, we were able to calculate the carbon footprint of our workwear from raw materials until we hand over the finished products to our customer (Cradle to gate). There are many different ways and means of calculating the carbon footprint. This is the first carbon footprint calculation for clothing in Finland with this accuracy and details. When we have a better understanding of the value chain emission hotspots, we can more easily develop our operations and meet our climate goals. You can read more about them in our responsibility section.
Most of our textile products (over 60% in 2020) are produced locally in the Baltic region. We produce high-volume orders for our customers in Vietnam, resulting in tens of thousands of textiles. For the carbon footprint calculation, we selected a healthcare uniform purchased by Sakupe Oy, which is used by healthcare professionals in many different hospital districts in Finland. In the tender for workwear put out in 2019 Sakupe Oy also wanted to emphasize the environmental aspects, which this carbon footprint calculation also helps to clarify.
-Already in the design phase of the workwear project, we found the environmental impact of workwear procurement and the evaluation of it as something really important. Based on this carbon footprint analysis, we will be able to focus future development measures especially on the areas with the greatest environmental impact, ie taking into account materials and transportation, says Ulla Lappalainen, Textile Manager at Sakupe Oy.
The uniform is manufactured in Vietnam and is mainly imported to Finland by sea. However, sometimes for schedule reasons, we have to fly part of the production in if, for example, there have been delays in the supply chain, or it is important for the customer to have the products available quickly. By looking at production in East Asia, we were also able to compare the climate load with an alternative local production location. The calculation gave us several important findings that will guide the actions of us and our important stakeholders in the future.
Product: Healthcare uniform consisting of a short-sleeved shirt and trousers with ribbed ankle cuffs.
Material: 99% Polyester 1% Carbon Fiber
Polyester yarn country of manufacture: Taiwan
Carbon fiber country of manufacture: USA
Fabric country of manufacture: Belgium
Healthcare uniform country of manufacture: Vietnam
Freight for materials and supplies to the country of manufacture: Sea freight
Freight from the country of manufacture to Finland: partial air freight (23%), but most by sea (77%)
Data collection: Production data collected by Touchpoint from subcontractors and partners. In addition, emission factor data from the OpenCO2.net emissions database developed by Clonet, as well as the ecoinvent -database, which is the world's leading life cycle information (LCA) database.
As a result, we calculated 8.21 kg of greenhouse gas emissions for one uniform (top and bottom) produced, which is estimated to be equivalent to about half a kilo of minced beef or less than 60 km of driving a car. However, more valuable information than the carbon footprint itself is the emission hotspots of the production chain. This carbon footprint data will help us plan our emission reduction efforts further. In addition, we will continue to develop our supply chain operations and material sourcing based on this calculation, when developing our carbon-neutral workwear collection.
Workwear carbon footprint receipt
So, the production of textile materials accounted for most of the carbon footprint of the healthcare uniform. The second largest climate burden was air freight, although less than a quarter of textiles were flown to the customer.
At the same time, we investigated the carbon footprint of this uniform using alternative production and transportation methods. This brought up interesting figures, which you can find below.
In this calculation, 23% of the products had to be flown to Finland. If the air freight had been replaced by 100% sea freight, the potential carbon footprint of the workwear would have been
6.68 kg CO2e.
Additionally, we wanted to know how the relocation of a similar production batch to local production unit would affect the emissions of workwear.
Country of manufacture: Latvia
Freight from the country of manufacture to Finland: Truck transport
The potential carbon footprint of the workwear produced locally in the Baltic region would have been
6.43 kg CO2e
The carbon footprint of local production is thus 4% less than with production in East Asia if the entire production batch is shipped to Finland by sea. The small difference is partly due to the relatively low energy consumption of the sewing of the workwear and the lower-than-average emission factor for electricity used by the Vietnamese factory.
In more holistic sustainability review there is of course much more than just carbon emission to consider, but this calculation above focused only on the climate impact side of textile manufacturing.
* Carbon footprint: Carbon footprint describes the climatic caused by a particular configurable entity. The carbon footprint can be calculated for a company, municipality, investment, product or service, for example. (source: Clonet / OpenCO2.net)
Greenhouse Gas: Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb the thermal energy released from the earth and cause global warming. (source: Clonet / OpenCO2.net)
CO2e, or Carbon dioxide equivalent, describes the global warming effect of different greenhouse gas emissions combined. (source: Clonet / OpenCO2.net)