The idea behind Karbonautti micro compensations is to help consumers compensate the carbon footprint of a commodity at the exact moment they are purchasing it. Until now it has been too complicated. For example, Lisa buys a new shirt from a webshop and would like to compensate the CO2 footprint of the shirt. First Lisa would need to somehow calculate the footprint of that skirt and then find a reliable compensation platform, fill her payment details and then pay an amount that is in many cases measured in cents. For obvious reasons this rarely happens.
There's one industry that is notoriously harmful for the climate but has the compensation mechanism as it should be – air traffic. When buying plane tickets it is more and more common that you can also compensate the carbon footprint as part of the same shopping flow. That can be done, since the details of the purchase are known: flight mileage, airplane type and so on. Estimating the carbon footprint of a flight is relatively easy, but what if it was possible to calculate the carbon footprint of any product and offer the option for compensation at checkout?
That is what Karbonaut AI is all about. We offer webshop merchants a tool that automatically creates a matching carbon compensation for all their products. We have started from one specific industry, with a carbon fooprint bigger than all maritime shipping and international flights combined. Did you guess it? We are talking about textile industry. Read more about the subject from this Karbonaut guest blog post.
Producing fashion and apparel has a carbon footprint that consists of various sources, like cultivation, harvesting, chemical processes, dyeing, cutting, logistics and so on. Producing 1 kg of fabric typically produces 10–100 kg of CO2. Different alternatives include natural and synthetic fibres as well as recycled and organic opotions. Even though the carbon footprint of a piece of apparel is relatively small, the amount of purchases is not – there are around 10 billion fashion webshop checkouts a year. Compensating even a small fraction of them will make a big impact for the fight against climate change.
So, how is the compensation calculation done? There are some secret ingredients, but the principle is this:
- Merchant installs Karbonaut app to their store
- Karbonautti AI defines a suitable product category for all merchant collections
- The result defines an estimated weight for each product under that collection
- Karbonautti AI analyses the product descriptions and defines the main material
- The result defines what's the ratio between the product weight and the carbon footprint
- When a customer has selected a product to cart, a compensation product with a matching weight and material is recommended.
- A customer has added a hoodie to the cart:
- Karbonautti AI defines that the hoodie can be classifed as "Knitwear and colleges"
- The estimated weight is 0,7 kg
- Based on the product description Karbonautti AI defines it as recycled cotton
- The carbon footprint of 1 kg of recycled cotton is 15 kg
- The carbon footprint of the hoodie is 0,7 * 15 kg = 10,5 kg
Here's a short explainer video.
Estimating the weight for a piece of apparel takes into account not only the product type but also the material. Instead of defining a constant weight for all skirts and then just using the material multiplier to define the carbon footprint would be too lazy – since we know that a silk skirt is very much lighter than a denim skirt. The real formula is more complicated and based on known weights, some extensive weighing and classification. Despite all of this the estimation may vary from the real weight – after all it's an AI, not deity.
For defining the carbon footprint multiplier for each kind of fabric we have used several sources, like the Higg Index, MacKinsey, Common Objective. For disclaimer, there are several variables that may affect the accuracy, for example: where the natural fibre has been cultivated, what colour the piece of apparel is (the need for dyeing), density of the fabric, and many more. Moreover different sources have different opinions on the calculation methods. The figures we use are are not at either end but represent an average.
Right now we offer an application to Shopify platform. It is delivered as a private app, i.e. it can not be found on the Shopify App Store. If you are a Shopify merchant interested in installing the Karbonaut app, please contact
Right, customers buy apparel and pair them with matching compensation products. What happens next? Against each compensated kg Karbonautti commits to purchase a matching amount of CER (Certified Emission Reductions) Units. Each purchase can be verified from the serial numbers. Karbonautti combines all customer compensations of a month for one CER purchase. CER Units are a part of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) mechanism defined by the Kyoto agreement.
Among all the CDM projects Karbonautti only accepts Gold Standard certified projects. Gold Standard is a certificate by WWF and other non-governmental organizations. It aims to ensure that Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon credits are real and verifiable and the projects make measurable contributions to sustainable development.