The COFRET project is co-financed
by European Commission Directorate
General for Research & Innovation as
part of the 7th Framework Programme
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COFRET Newsletter January 2012

Newsletter Articles 



Welcome to the first COFRET Newsletter



COFRET is a collaborative project that is working to improve the methodology used to calculate the carbon footprint of freight transport and logistics operations within the overall supply chain.

The COFRET project has been running for just over six months and much has already been done to establish and assess what is currently done and how this needs to be improved; so it's a good time for an update on the progress that has been made.

COFRET will develop and test a methodology for the calculation of the carbon footprint that will draw upon existing initiatives so that it is aligned with the needs of those responsible for shipping and transporting goods by whatever means. In order to use the best elements of existing good practice across the modes and supply chain elements a widespread, detailed review of existing methods, tools and databases has been conducted. More detail on that process and the results in contained in our first newsletter article. The review has been supplemented using a stakeholder consultation and gap analysis so that anything missing in the existing methods can be identified and plugged. This was presented at a recent COFRET workshop hosted in Berlin by DLR, COFRET's co-ordinator.

Initial work on the development of the COFRET methodology is already underway and a key element within the methodology development will be a workshop to be held in February 2012 with practitioners who are already working in the field of carbon footprint of freight transport. This will be supported and tested through practical application by key stakeholders in real supply chain situations with a view to incorporating the COFRET methodology into existing carbon footprinting tools and standardised supply chain management systems.

For more information please visit  

 Project Scope and the Importance of Engagement 



COFRET's objectives are:

  • To establish a complete GHG emission calculation methodology and framework for the transport element of complex supply chains based, where possible, on available calculation tools for CO2 emissions.
  • To cover all types of shipments, all types of transport relations (short-range to long-range), both at company level and at the aggregated level of transport and logistics.
  • To provide a methodology that is applicable for supply chains within the EU as well as in the global context
  • To embed practical exploitation as a key element of the technical work programme to maximise the eventual uptake of the COFRET methodology, tools and outputs.

Because of our desire to use best available practice rather than re-inventing it, and the need that the COFRET methodology is eventually used by those involved in commissioning, managing and providing freight transport services close liaison with commercial partners in the freight transport industry is essential.

In order to ensure that our work has direct relevance to potential end users we are closely engaged with our external Advisory Board, which includes representatives from Conlogic, Connekt, Deutschebahn, DHL, Ewals Cargo Care, Fiege, Kuehne + Nagel, Maersk Line, myclimate, Sainsburys, Swiss and UPM. Although the Board members provide advice to the COFRET project, the technical content and conclusions of COFRET are those of the project partners and not necessarily endorsed by the Board Members or their employers.

We have embarked upon a programme of proactive external liaison with a number of initiatives working in this area, including:

  • The World Economic Forum's Consignment Carbon initiative
  • SmartWay Europe
  • CEN TC 320

as well as several national and mode-specific initiatives.

264 CLECAT by Alexander Louvet.jpg262 CLECAT by Alexander Louvetv5.JPG

We took our project display stand to CLECAT's 11th Annual Freight Forwarders' Conference held in Brussels in November 2011.

 Review of carbon footprint methods, tools and data completed



To support the COFRET methodology development, a thorough review and assessment of existing carbon footprint calculation methods, tools and databases has been carried out. During this state-of-the-art review a large number of initiatives addressing transport and logistics carbon footprint were screened and around one hundred were selected for a structured analysis in the context of the COFRET objectives. The review was completed in December 2011 and the results are available in COFRET Deliverable 2.1, which will be made available for download from the COFRET website once approval has been received from the EC client.

Findings from the review of existing methods, tools and databases showed that there are already some good solutions for calculation of the carbon footprint of transport and logistics within the overall supply chain. However a consistent, harmonised framework to cover all logistics operations along the supply chain is currently missing. As a response to this incoherence and variability, draft-phase international standards, such as prEN 16258:2011, are expected to provide common grounds for several methodological issues.

The COFRET methodology will build on the existing know-how by combining relevant state-of-the-art solutions and filling in gaps, all the while keeping track of the ongoing standardization work. Collaboration with both the users and developers of existing methods, tools and data will continue in the next steps of COFRET methodology development. This will include an investigation of how to expand the geographic scope from European to global status. 

 User Needs Surveys



Information about user needs, practices and experiences for carbon footprint calculations in the supply chain has been collected through 29 in-depth interviews conducted by the COFRET partners and answers from 62 respondents in an online survey.  Most interview and survey respondents were transport operators, manufacturers / wholesalers / retailers and logistic service providers, with a small number of responses from researchers and consultants.

The main findings from the interviews and survey are that:

  • There is a real need for a common methodology, standardised emission factors and transparency over the calculations, which combine to emphasise the relevance of the COFRET project.
  • With currently used calculation tools there is often a lack regarding their level of detail and their inclusion of other logistics elements than transport.
    • The most substantial gaps between technical specifications for implemented calculation tools and what are desired requirements are emissions connected to transfer points and warehousing/ storage.
    • A requirement is that emission output should be calculated at shipment level as CO2-equivalents and/or disaggregated to CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases.  A lot of the existing calculation tools only give CO2 as emission output and it is desired that other greenhouse gas emissions should be included in a more-developed calculation tool.
    • A wide range of different data sources are used in the emissions calculations by different companies.  Because of the extent of these data sources, a considerable amount of effort will need to be put into creating a common framework for calculations to coincide as much as possible with current practices.
    • There is a wide variety of interest in green logistics among stakeholders.  Some will only take the measures forced upon them, while others are either concerned about the sustainability of the logistics sector, or ready to exploit the marketing potential green logistics involves.

Results from the interviews and the survey are a key input to the process of specifying a harmonised methodology.

 COFRET User Needs Workshop, Brussels 19th January 2012



DSCF1070lighten.jpgA one-day workshop was held in Berlin on 19th January 2012 where members of the COFRET consortium were able to meet and hold in-depth discussions with representatives of shippers, logistics providers, international shipping lines and not-for profit organisations among others. Among those present were representatives involved in several industry-led initiatives already working towards carbon footprinting solutions covering specific transport elements within the supply chain, such as SmartWay Europe, Eco TransIT, Clean Cargo Working Group and also involved in the CEN Working Group 320.

The discussion was very constructive and provided some key pointers for the development of the COFRET methodology:

  • The need for an approach to carbon footprint calculations that can be applied consistently across all modes.
  • A methodology that will allow transparent comparison between different transport providers and supply chain options
  • Data requirements which draw as much as possible on simple data from existing systems
  • Additional guidance to improve the credibility of results, even within existing standards
  • Consistency between emerging European standards and future global standards

A fuller report on the workshop is now available on the COFRET website (click here) and the findings will be incorporated in the Deliverable Report on "User needs, Practices and Experiences in the Context of Carbon Footprint Calculations in Supply Chain Configurations". 

 Methodology Development : Our Aim for a Harmonised Methodology



The COFRET methodology will be based mainly on existing knowledge, found in various available methodologies, calculation tools, emission factor databases and other sources such as research projects. COFRET aims to select the very best knowledge available that is suitable for COFRET's harmonized methodology, given for example the requirements of the intended users. In order to compose the COFRET methodology, existing items will need to be thoroughly evaluated. An initial inventory has been developed and a series of more detailed reviews of the most important methodologies is currently underway.

The vision for the COFRET methodology is that emissions can be calculated and/or estimated for separate supply chain elements (SCEs), with a methodology being formulated for each of the individual logistics related SCEs identified.

Since COFRET will use existing knowledge, it is important to understand the methodological foundations and algorithms of the existing tools and methodologies and to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, COFRET will hold a workshop in Brussels with those involved in methodology and tool development on February 15th, 2012.

The main objective of this workshop is to discuss and determine which parts of which tools and methodologies can be integrated into the resulting COFRET methodology. Furthermore, a topic of interest will be interfacing between supply chain management systems and emission calculation tools and methodologies.

Tool developers interested in joining this workshop can register their interest here.

For more information on the development of the COFRET methodology please contact Nina Nesterova (NEA) or Diederik de Ree (TNO).

 COFRET Project Next Steps



- Publication of reports on:

  • Existing Methods and Tools for Calculation of Carbon Footprint of Supply Chain Configurations
  • User Needs, Practices and Experiences in the Context of Carbon Footprint Calculations in the Supply Chain
  • Future Technologies and Innovations Relating to Freight Transport which are Relevant for Carbon Footprint Calculation
  • Methodologies for Emission Calculations - Best Practices, Implications and Future Needs

- Workshop with developers of existing methodologies and emissions calculation tools

- Work on the detailed methodology development

- Further engagement with industry initiatives and international standardisation bodies

- Application of the COFRET methodology in a series of practical case studies for testing and methodology refinement.

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For more information see or contact Alan Lewis or Verena Ehrler

Newsletter contributors: Alan Lewis, Heidi Auvinen, Olav Eidhammer, Diederik de Ree & Verena Ehrler

Contact COFRET


 The COFRET project is co-financed by European Commission Directorate General for Research & Innovation as part of the 7th Framework Programme 



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