The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp 962–969

Managing the carbon footprint of products: the contribution of the method composed of financial statements (MC3)


DOI: 10.1007/s11367-010-0230-1

Cite this article as:
Carballo-Penela, A. & Doménech, J.L. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15: 962. doi:10.1007/s11367-010-0230-1



Carbon footprints (CF) provide companies, customers, and other agents with information related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the life cycle of products, identifying key points in the supply chain, potential risks, and opportunities of improvement. This paper briefly examines how the method composed of financial statements (MC3) (MC3, as coined from the name of the method in Spanish, i.e., método compuesto de las cuentas contables.) approaches to specific requirements related to the assessment of product GHG emissions, pointing out the contribution of this method to assessing and communicating the carbon footprint of products.

Materials and methods

The MC3 was developed between 2000 and 2002 by J. L. Doménech who designed a tool for assessing ecological and carbon footprint of organizations. Nowadays, MC3 is supported by the Multi-University Working Group on Corporative Footprint. One of the recent achievements of this group has been the development of MC3 for products carbon footprinting. The MC3 approach has been recognized by the Spanish Observatory for Sustainability as a valid methodology for assessing and reducing GHG emissions arising from companies under the frame of the Spanish GHG Voluntary Reduction Agreement.


MC3 offers guidelines for assessing the CF of products. Guidelines include specific requirements for issues such as system boundaries, temporal boundaries, and goal setting. Information on specific issues such as emissions from land use change, capital goods or carbon storage clarifies the approach to be taken by organizations implementing product carbon footprinting.


Consumers and organizations all over the world are interested in obtaining information regarding the carbon footprint of products they consume and produce, being needed further standardization of methods for carbon footprinting. However, it is difficult that one approach provides for optimal results in a wide range of situations. MC3 is one of the existing approaches to assess the CF of products. MC3 has been developed under the premise of being a simple and practical method. The role of markets as the main source of communicating CF information on products among the members of the supply chain is an important strength of the method.


MC3 provides for an internationally standardized method for the assessment of GHG emissions from the life cycle of products built on the LCA guidance and key principles of relevant approaches of the field of LCA. MC3 offers useful information for sustainable development, carbon management of organizations and sustainable consumption, being a flexible, transparent, and easy-to-apply method.


Carbon footprinting GHG (greenhouse gas) assessment LCA MC3 (one of the existing approaches to assess the CF of products) Supply chain 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business Organization and Commerce, Faculty of Economics and Business AdministrationUniversity of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia-Spain)Santiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Department of EnvironmentPort of GijónSpain

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