cm.chemicals 2023 update:
How data can drive
the net-zero transition
A conversation with Laura Stellner
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cm.chemicals is the Carbon Minds product carbon footprint (PCF) and life cycle assessment (LCA) database for chemicals and plastics, and the 2023 update is our most comprehensive yet. Find out more in this exclusive interview with Laura Stellner, Modeling and Database Design Expert at Carbon Minds. Below, she unpacks the scientific and methodological advances that made this major update possible, and how the work of Carbon Minds is contributing to the chemical industry’s net-zero transition.
Modeling and Database
How did you become involved with Carbon Minds?
I was involved from the beginning, working as a student research assistant for Raoul Meys and Arne Kätelhön at RWTH Aachen University. Together, we laid the foundation for Carbon Minds’ unique database methodology, which is tailored to the chemical industry. I joined Carbon Minds full-time four years ago as a modeling and database design expert, and database development is still one of my main activities and a personal passion. We update the cm.chemicals database every year, and this year’s version has been particularly inspiring to work on.
Everyone put a lot of effort into this latest update. What makes you particularly proud of what you and the team have achieved?
One of our key achievements has been to provide more comprehensive coverage of the entire chemical value chain, from resource extraction (crude oil and natural gas) to the final chemical and plastic products. This year, we took a big step forward by updating the background data on oil and gas emissions, even though we don’t sell oil and gas data directly. We’ve also incorporated the latest scientific findings on oil and gas emissions data and improved the regionalization of our oil and gas data using the latest findings from ESU-services and ecoinvent. This allows us to provide a more holistic representation of the chemical value chain, which improves the quality of all our chemicals and plastics LCA data.
Another key development in this update is the compliance of our methodology with the Together for Sustainability (TfS) guideline on product carbon footprint (PCF) calculations. By ensuring that our PCF calculations comply with this standard, we’re enabling more reliable and comparable results. This demonstrates our commitment to staying at the forefront of methodological advances in the LCA field and helping to drive the chemical industry’s sustainability journey. Overall, the dedication, teamwork, and attention to detail that went into this update make me truly proud of our accomplishments.
What was the biggest challenge this year?
Achieving compliance with the TfS guideline for PCF calculations required a detailed review of our LCA methodology. This included revising allocation and cut-off rules and adding supplementary information on data quality in the dataset reporting. This meant that our experts had to deeply scrutinize specific chemicals and product groups, which required significant effort.
Another major challenge is ensuring that the data remains as current as possible. Whether it was changes in production technology or in the capacity of chemical production plants or changing chemical trade volumes, we had to keep track of all these factors – it’s the only way to reflect the ongoing transitions happening in the chemical industry in our LCA data.
How does your work contribute to the net-zero transition?
This latest database update represents the next step in our ongoing mission to support companies in the chemicals value chain to take bold steps towards net-zero. The aim of the update was to make our LCA data as comprehensive, reliable, trustworthy, and consistent as possible. We achieved this objective not only through the methodological and data changes described above but also by obtaining certification for our database’s compliance with ISO 14040/44/67 and the TfS guideline by TÜV Rheinland. This is the best way to empower decision-makers, researchers, and companies to make better-informed decisions that help reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Ultimately, our cm.chemicals database will become a key tool in increasing transparency in the chemicals sector and enabling the industry to achieve its sustainability goals.
Contact us now,
if you’d like to discuss what the latest cm.chemicals update means for your environmental impact assessments.