Collaborative frameworks and technology platforms for creating new connections for greater transparency and consumer choice.

We heard from:

how state-of-the-art information sharing with the public is far more than calculating carbon impacts; it’s about mapping and communicating sources and processes throughout supply chains.

Yalmaz Siddiqui started off by presenting how Office Depot’s exciting partnership with New Leaf Paper is about selling more paper, but using fewer trees…“we want to de-tree, de-impact, and de-commodify the paper supply chain.” While recycled still costs far more than virgin paper, Yalmaz continued by saying that new footprinting and source mapping technologies (like those pioneered by The Carbon Trust and Sourcemap) can tell the story in exciting new ways to build awareness and demand, and ultimately help to bring closer price parity between recycled and virgin.

Martin Barrow provided a brief history of footprinting, how The Carbon Trust originated the first standards in the UK, and how China is leading its rapidly expanding use. Barrow highlighted the urgent need for international standards and widely accepted certification systems to ensure comparability of results. He clarified two basic practitioner camps in footprinting, those with internal commitments to emission reductions, and those with commitments to transparency to stakeholders. In closing he touched on the rich diversity and complexity in footprinting, across industries and across a huge range of both desirable and dangerous by-products.

Leonardo Bonanni believes that understanding where things come is the root of sustainability. He described how Sourcemap’s innovative and rapidly expanding wiki source mapping platform emerged from efforts to teach sustainable design at MIT, which revealed no tools or good data existed for differentiating between “good” and “bad” materials and methods. Thanks to Bonanni’s efforts Sourcemap was born, and what started with a simple online carbon calculator, is now a vibrant social network of conscious suppliers and consumers mapping sources for everything from their own homes (right down to the doorknobs!) to components in IKEA’s furniture. Bonanni clarified sourcing isn’t just about materials, it’s about understanding of the context and impacts on social conditions where inputs derive.

In his closing remarks, Bonanni reiterated the inspiration behind Sourcemap and related multi-stakeholder efforts at The Carbon Trust, Office Depot and New Leaf Paper are “not just about what is at the source, but who is at the source, bringing the story full circle…creating rich new connections that lead to greater transparency and consumer choice.”