This page contains information and links to tools and resources that may be helpful in measuring, understanding, and reporting GHG emissions or reductions relating to materials or waste management. Not all of the content listed on this page is endorsed or supported by all of the parties that created this toolkit, but it is offered here to provide a broad cross-section of resources. Use the contents to the right to navigate the different types of resources.

GHG Standards or Protocols

GHG Calculators Covering Materials and/or Waste

  • California Air Resources Board Conversion Tool (Online tool). Converts CO2 amounts to familiar equivalents
  • U.S. EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM) (Excel or on-line version). Calculates and totals GHG emissions or energy impacts of baseline and alternative waste management practices—source reduction, recycling, combustion, composting, and landfilling. The model calculates emissions in MTCE, MTCO2E, and BTU for 26 materials and 8 mixed material categories. (See supporting and background documents for this calculator in Reference 2 below.)
  • Environment Canada's Greenhouse Gases (GHG) Calculator for Waste Management (Excel-based). Calculates and totals GHG emissions of baseline and alternative waste management practices—recycling, anaerobic digestion, combustion, composting, and landfilling –for 19 materials/products. Landfill gas recovery and transportation distances to waste management facilities can be modified by the user. Environment Canada’s tool builds on WARM data and uses Canadian-based data when possible.
  • ICLEI's Climate and Air Pollution Planning Assistant (CAPPA) (Excel-based). Provides information and quantification tools for over 100 distinct emissions reduction strategies. Requires subscription.
  • Cool Climate Network household and business climate calculators. One of the few calculators that includes "upstream" emissions associated with materials use.
  • Oregon Carbon Calculator. An Oregon-specific version of the Cool Climate Network calculator.
  • U.S. EPA Recycled Content (Recon) Tool (Excel or on-line version). Estimates the GHG emissions and energy impacts from purchasing and/or manufacturing materials with varying degrees of post-consumer recycled content. Recon includes 17 materials, including metal, plastic and paper products. Recon uses the same background life-cycle data as WARM.
  • U.S. EPA WasteWise Office Carbon Footprint Tool (Excel-based). Includes calculations for solid waste and recycling volumes, and purchase of recycled content materials, primarily applicable for use by office-based organizations.
  • U.S. EPA Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Decision Support Tool(Excel-based, not publicly available). Intended for use by solid waste planners to analyze and compare MSW management strategies with respect to GHGs, cost, and other environmental impacts. Supporting information:
  • Sound Resource Management's Measuring the Environmental Benefits Calculator (MEBCalc™) is proprietary software for computing the environmental footprint of a community’s municipal solid waste (MSW) management system, from collection through final disposition of each discarded product or packaging material. Environmental impacts covered in the footprint include climate change as well as public health (respiratory disease, cancer, and toxicity), ecosystem toxicity, waterway nutrification, and acid rain.
  • Clean Air Cool Planet Campus Calculator (Excel-based). Includes a wide range of emission and cost calculations for many activities, including power usage, transportation, waste management and offsets. The waste management portion of the calculator uses emission factors from WARM, but does not account for upstream emissions. The tool only calculates emissions from direct waste management either by landfilling or incineration. Includes offsets for composting. Also includes benefits (derived from the Environmental Defense Fund paper calculator) for using recycled content paper.

Database Sources of GHG Emissions Factors for Materials and Waste

Initiatives or Campaigns Addressing GHG Impacts of Materials and Waste

Government GHG Programs Addressing Materials and Waste

Examples and Case Studies

This section provides studies or examples of how product or activities contributing to GHG emissions accounting or reductions have been measured and presented.

Note that GHG product-related emissions listed here should be third-party verified, and this Wiki development group has not endorsed any of these products, nor verified any of the product GHG reporting. It is intended that some of these product examples may be useful in crafting procurement policies.

References and Additional Information

1. EPA. Sustainable Materials Management: The Road Ahead
2. Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases: A Lifecycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks.
3. Recycling, Composting, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Minnesota.
4. EPA, September 2009. Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices. (Report provides the formal presentation of EPA's "systems" view of GHG emissions, including the estimate that materials management is associated with an estimated 42 percent of total domestic GHG emissions).
5. Metro (Portland). 2010. Regional Greenhouse Gas Inventory: The Carbon Footprint of Residents and Businesses inside the Portland Metropolitan Region.
6. Walsh, B. 2010. When Goods Get Traded, Who Pays for the CO2? (Article on the emissions associated with producing goods and consumption-based accounting in the context of international trade and climate negotiations).
7. Morris, Jeffrey. June 2007. The Environmental Value of Metro Region Recycling for 2007 specific to GHG inventories vs. footprints for businesses, and may be helpful in communicating the importance of "consumption" or "supply chain" emissions.
8. Weber and Matthews. 2005. "Embodied Environmental Emissions in U.S. International Trade, 1997-2004. Shows increased imports and shifting trade patterns led to a large increase in emissions of CO2, SO2 and NOx.
9. International Solid Waste Association. 2009. Waste and Climate Change - ISWA White Paper.
10. Stolaroff, J. (for the Product Policy Institute). September 2009. Products, Packaging, and U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions. (Report builds on the EPA "Foundation Paper" and adjusts emissions to account for imports and exports. It also splits "provision of food" from "provision of materials" and adds "provision of materials" with "use of appliances and devices" to estimate that "products and packaging" contribute 44 percent of GHG emissions including emissions embodied in international trade).
11. Hubacek, K. 2009. Towards a New Deal in Climate Policy: Consumption-Based Approach for Mitigation of GHG Emissions (Presentation as part of California Air Resources Board's Air Pollution Seminar Series - points out that conventional inventories tell where emissions occur, while consumption-based inventories tell us why emissions occur).
12. Hertwich and Peters. Carbon Footprint of Nations: A Global, Trade-Linked Analysis
(Estimates the consumption-based "carbon footprint" of nations, including the US).
13. EPA State and Local Climate and Energy Program. Solid Waste and Materials Management.
14. Climate Change - The Next Frontier in Waste Management Policies? November 2007. (Presentation by David Allaway, ODEQ).
15. Franklin Associates. 2010. Life Cycle Inventory of 100% of Postconsumer HDPE and PET Recycled Resin from Postconsumer Containers and Packaging.
16. West Coast Webinars on Climate Change, Waste Prevention, Recovery and Disposal (Webinars released December 2009).
17. Peters, Minx, Weber, and Edenhofer. Growth in Emission Transfers via International Trade from 1990 to 2008. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research team quantified the growth in emission transfers via international trade, covering 113 countries and 57 economic sectors from 1990 to 2008, and found that the emissions from the production of traded goods and services have increased from 4.3 Gt CO2 in 1990 to 7.8 Gt CO2 in 2008 (26 percent).
18. Journal of Industrial Ecology. Jan/Feb 2010. Special 2010 Issue All articles and commentaries - listed below - focus on sustainability and consumption).
  • Can Sustainable Consumers and Producers Save the Planet? by Munasinghe, M.
  • A New Vision of Sustainable Consumption by Krantz, R.
  • Sustainable Consumption and Production An Agenda Beyond Sustainable Consumer Procurement by Fedrigo & Hontelez.
  • How City Dwellers Affect Their Resource Hinterland: A Spatial Impact Study of Australian Households (©2010, Yale University).
  • User−Producer Interaction in Housing Energy Innovations: Energy Innovation as a Communication Challenge by Heiskanen & Lovio.
  • Life Cycle Cost Disclosure, Consumer Behavior, and Business Implications: Evidence From an Online Field Experiment by Deutsch, M.
  • The Effect of Life Cycle Cost Information on Consumer Investment Decisions Regarding Eco-Innovation by Kaenzig & Wüstenhagen.
  • Standby Consumption in Households Analyzed With a Practice Theory Approach by Gram-Hanssen, K.
  • Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Walker, R.
  • Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Lindstrom, M.
  • The New Economics of Sustainable Consumption: Seeds of Change by Gill Seyfang and edited by Elliot, D.
  • Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Barber, B.
  • Sustainability by Design: A Subversive Strategy for Transforming Our Consumer Culture by John R. Ehrenfeld.
  • Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ruppel Shell, E.
  • Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed From Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves by Szasz, A.
  • Prosperity Without Growth: The Transition to a Sustainable Economy by Jackson, T.
  • System Innovation for Sustainability 1: Perspectives on Radical Changes to Sustainable Consumption and Production, by Vergragt, P.