Researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute have developed a ground-breaking Facebook-inspired calculator that can come in handy to calculate the carbon footprint of thousands of products simultaneously. The tool is a part of the project created to help PepsiCo develop standard calculations on the lifecycle of thousands of the products manufactured by the company.
The tool is based on the use of a model that can estimate the carbon footprint of different materials and can then calculate the resultant footprints in minutes, virtually automatically. The software takes inspiration from sites such as Facebook, which use existing data to predict what the members of the social network will be interested in viewing. Just like sites mine vast datasets to predict who will like a particular movie, the software mines detailed product and supply chain data for calculating the results.
If the software isn’t able to find the exact specifications of a product material, it can make a sensible guess that is based on all previous data. The results can help eco conscious consumers make more informed choices on the type of product they buy and its resultant footprint. The software can also help save companies significant amount of time and money, which is usually spent in manual mapping of a product and packaging materials.