Carbon footprint assessment

A carbon footprint assessment measures the total set of greenhouses gases that are emitted at different stages of a product's life cycle. The most recognized methodologies used for a carbon footprint assessment are based upon the ISO 14044 standard and the PAS 2050.

Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gas are compressible fluids that were attributed a coefficient for their global warming potential (GWP) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).These gases are converted into CO2e (e means ‘equivalent’) by multiplying their weight with the GWP value.

Greenhouse gases and their GWP value
Type of gas
Chemical formula
Carbon dioxide
Nitrous oxide
124 – 14,800
4,750 – 14,400

System boundaries and scopes

The term boundary refers to the set of criteria specifying which unit processes are part of a product life cycle and are therefore accounted for in the carbon footprint assessment of a specific product. Once the system boundary has been defined, the greenhouse gas emissions arising during the different stages of the product life cycle will be identified and assigned to three different scopes, as introduced by the World Resource Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

System boundaries

The carbon footprint assessment includes the greenhouse gas emissions that are released during different stages of the life cycle of bananas. The inputs and outputs are analyzed for every production stage, and emissions related to production and transportation are calculated.

The emissions that are directly emitted during one stage as well as the indirect emissions are taken into account. For instance, the combustion of fossil fuels causes a direct emission in a production or transportation phase but the production of fossil fuels is also related to greenhouse gas emissions. The latter one is called an indirect emission.

For every production stage the inputs and outputs are inventoried. This means that the yield (of main and co-products) is inventoried, just like the amount of discarded products.

For bananas, in a typical “cradle-to-gate” approach, the following stages of the life cycle, and their impact on the overall carbon footprint, are taken into consideration:

  • Soil emissions (direct and indirect soil emissions related to fertilizer use)
  • Indirect emissions due to the manufacturing and transportation of agricultural inputs
  • Energy consumption: fuel used for the jets carrying out aerial spraying, diesel/gasoline used for tractors or ground spraying equipment
  • Indirect emissions used to produce the plastic bags used in the plantation to protect the banana bunches.
  • Energy consumption: electricity used for lighting the packing house and operating the pumps that extract water from the wells, diesel for running generators when power supply fails
  • Indirect emissions due to the manufacturing and transportation of packing inputs (e.g. corrugated board)  
  • Energy consumption: for transporting, by rail or truck, banana boxes from the packing station to the port terminal 
Terminal and port operations:
  • Electricity used at the terminal
  • Fuel used for transportation at the terminal and in the port  
  • Refrigerant use for the storage of bananas in the container terminal
Overseas transportation:   
  • Fuel used during shipping and port calls and for transporting bananas from the port of discharge to the ripening facility
  • Refrigerant used during the shipping phase
Ripening process:
  • Ethylene and energy use for cooling and heating the facility
Transportation from the ripening facility to the retailer's distribution center:
  • Fuel consumption


In line with the approach of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the emissions identified within the system boundary and the different stages are assigned to three different scopes as follows:

Scope 1:
  • Scope 1 emissions include the direct GHG emissions of a company. These emissions arise from sources that are owned or controlled by the company.
Scope 2:
  • Scope 2 emissions include indirect GHG emissions of the product.These are emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by the company. Purchased electricity is defined as electricity that is purchased or otherwise brought into the organizational boundary of the company. Scope 2 emissions physically occur at the facility where electricity is generated.
Scope 3:
  • Scope 3 emissions include other indirect GHG emissions of the company. These emissions are a consequence of the activities of the company but occur at sources owned or controlled by another company.


In general, the following sources of emissions are not included in the carbon footprint assessment:

  • The user phase of products is not included in the carbon footprint assessment, as it has a high level of uncertainty and the estimated emissions during the user phase on the eventual carbon footprint is only minor.
  • The waste/recycling phase of the product is excluded, because of high uncertainty.
  • Land use change is worldwide a major source of GHG emissions but the methodology how to allocate it to different products is still under development and is therefore usually excluded.
  • Emissions from the production of capital goods (like trucks, airplanes and buildings)
  • Traveling of employees to and from the workplace.
  • Human energy requirements.
  • Animals providing transport services.
  • Transport of consumers to and from retail.

Also on this website

Carbon labelling schemes

Further reading

Studies on the banana's carbon footprint in the Musalit bibliographical database.


This page was set up in the framework of the World Banana Forum