A hand painted half in green holding a sprout with three leaves.
 The environmental handprint enables companies to highlight the positive environmental impacts of the choices they made during development and manufacturing. Image: Alena Koval / Pexels
Sustainable tech/energy

Finland’s LUT and VTT give big hand to positive environmental actions

LUT University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have refined and expanded the carbon handprint, a method for casting light on the positive environmental impacts of products, projects and entire organisations.

Aleksi Teivainen

08.06.2021

The handprint has been expanded in the couple of years since its launch to cover impacts such as air quality, nutrients and resource handprints.

Representing a departure from the well-known footprint methods that focus on negative climate and environmental impacts, the method enables organisations to scientifically quantify and communicate the positive changes in the carbon footprints of their products and services, thereby encouraging them to reduce emissions and resource use.

LUT University and VTT believe it presents early adopters an opportunity to profile themselves as trailblazers with products and services with positive impacts.

“[The] handprint method has been welcomed with enthusiasm in Finland,” said Saija Vatanen, the project manager at VTT. “Many companies have already made it an essential part of their corporate responsibility. Companies have discovered the handprint to be a valuable tool in product development, strategic decision-making and communicating the environmental benefits of their actions.”

One of the 16 corporate partners of the over two-year refinement project was ANDRITZ, a leading supplier of plants, equipment and services for the pulp and paper industry.

Kaisa Gronman poses for the camera

“The logic behind the approach is simple – the larger the handprint, the better,” said Kaisa Gronman from LUT. Image: LUT

“The environmental handprint project gave us tools for analysing ways to enhance the environmental friendliness of our technologies,” attested Kaj Lindh, head of manufacturing development at ANDRITZ Finland.

Consumers, meanwhile, can use the handprint to determine how a particular product or service stacks up against others in terms of environmental impact.

“For product users, the handprint offers foundations for making choices that help them to reduce their own environmental footprint,” elaborated Kaisa Grönman, a post-doctoral researcher at LUT University. “The logic behind the approach is simple – the larger the handprint, the better.”

Funded primarily by Business Finland, the project also produced an instruction manual that guides companies through every step of implementing the environmental handprint. The guidelines are based on standardised environmental impact assessment methods such as lifecycle assessment, carbon footprint and water footprint.

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