The National Academies

NCFRP 36(04) [Final]

Carbon Footprint of Supply Chains: A Scoping Study

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Research Agency: MIT
Principal Investigator: Chris Caplice
Effective Date: 5/11/2012
Completion Date: 5/10/2013
Comments: Completed. Published as NCFRP Web-only Document 5


Supply chains are designed for the efficient processing, staging, and movement of goods to market or industrial users. Decision makers must make many competitive choices when establishing supply chains, and these choices have material consequences for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While many companies measure the carbon footprint of their individual supply chains, and freight operators have measured their particular contributions, there is no consistent method to measure the transportation component of the supply chain GHG impacts for key industrial sectors of the economy. This limits the ability of decision makers to understand existing impacts and to explore the consequences of existing or proposed policies and regulations related to GHG emissions.Research is needed to review the current state of the practice for measuring the overall carbon footprint of the transportation component of supply chains for key industrial sectors of the economy, and for preparing a research approach to develop a method to allow consistent reporting and measurement of supply chain impacts and identification and quantification of reduction opportunities.


The objectives of this project are to (1) define a standardized, conceptual approach to assessing global greenhouse gas emissions of the transportation component of supply chains; (2) critique the current methods and data used to quantify GHG emissions of the transportation component of supply chains; and (3) prepare a detailed work plan listing the specific tasks necessary to develop a decision tool to help estimate the carbon footprint of the transportation component of supply chains and to assess potential supply chain modifications to reduce these impacts.


Research is complete.  The web-only document can be viewed at: http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/169329.aspx

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