Product Factors

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Product Emission Factors Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Once I have bought an emission factor, in what format will I receive it?

Once you have processed your payment, your selected emission factors will be displayed. This means, you will be able to see all the information you could see before paying, plus a column with the kgCO2e. You can always get access to this information by logging in to your Carbon Footprint account (as long as you are still licensed – licence expires after one year). Alternatively, you can select the information after having paid, copy and paste it into a MS Excel spreadsheet.


How can I be sure of the audit trail?

  • We use product emission factors from internationally recognised sources.
  • Source information regarding the emission factor record is displayed with your chosen product emission factor(s) for traceability.


Why can't I find the emission factor I want? 

  • US versus GB English. If your word is written differently in US and GB English (e.g. ‘fertilizer’ and‘fertiliser’, then try with both options.
  • The words come in different order. For example, the figure associated to incinerating paper is recorded under ‘disposal, paper, 11.2% water, to municipal incineration’. E.g. if you type ‘incinerating paper’, you won’t get any results. We recommend you either i) selecting one or various categories and entering just one word in the‘search’ window (in the example above you would select ‘waste management’ and then enter ‘paper’ in the search window); or ii) trying just one word and scrolling through the multiple results you may get.

  • Make sure that you haven’t typed extra spaces or punctuation (for example between two words or at the end of word).

  • The figure you are looking for has various possible and it is recorded in the database with a different one that the one you entered; e.g. ammonium hydroxide is also called ammonia solution, ammonia water or ammonia, but it is only recorded in the database as ‘ammonia’, so unless you enter this term you wouldn't find it.

  • The figure you are looking for does not exist in the database. In this case, you can do some research to find a process, material or product which is similar to the one you are looking for, and assume that the emission factors are similar (although of course not the same).


What happens if the ‘Location’ column states a different country to the one I am in?

The location column displays the country or region which data has been used to calculate the emission factor. Therefore, if the emission factor you found was calculated with data from your country then your study will be more accurate. However, if you can’t find an emission factor from your country, you can still use it without problem, as probably an emission factor for that product, material or process has not yet been calculated for your country – in which case you are using the most accurate option. Please note that most life cycle assessment standards (such as ISO 14042, PAS 2050 or GHG Protocol) allow for this practice.


What information does the ‘Unit’ column provide? 

Under the ‘Unit’column you will find the unit to which the emission factor refers to. For example, if the unit for the material ‘glass fibre, at plant’ was ‘kg’ and the emission factor was ‘3.17’, that would mean that to produce 1 kg of glass fibre at plant 3.17 kgCO2e are released (please note that these numbers are made up).


Below is a list with the meanings of units within the database:










kg SWU

kilogram separative work unit




kilowatt hour


livestock unit




square meter


square meter annum




meter annum


mega joule


normal cubic meter


passenger kilometer


tonne kilometer


vehicle kilometer


What is the Ecoinvent database?

Ecoinvent is the world's leading life cycle inventory (LCI) database with consistent and transparent data of known quality. It contains international industrial lifecycle inventory data on energy supply, resource extraction, material supply,chemicals, metals, agriculture, waste management services, and transport services.


What is the Ecoinvent Centre?

Ecoinvent Centre created and maintain Ecoinvent database. Created in 1997, the Ecoinvent Centre(originally called the Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories) is a CompetenceCentre of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zurich) andLausanne (EPF Lausanne), the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Swiss FederalLaboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa) and the Swiss FederalResearch Station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon (ART).