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PepsiCo and researchers at Columbia University have announced progress in using data mining and analytics to quickly calculate carbon footprints for hundreds of PepsiCo products. According to the news release from the Earth Institute at Columbia, “Researchers have developed new software that can rapidly calculate the carbon footprints of thousands of products simultaneously, a process that up to now has been time consuming and expensive.” “The key component was a model that generates estimated emission factors for materials, eliminating manual mapping of a product’s ingredients and packaging materials. Meinrenken said the automatically generated factors enable non-experts ‘to calculate approximate carbon footprints and alleviate resource constraints for companies embarking on large-scale product carbon footprinting.’ “

The researchers’ approach was inspired by fields outside environmental science, Meinrenken said. ‘At companies like Facebook or Netflix, engineers employ statistical wizardry to mine vast datasets and essentially teach computers to predict, for instance, who will like a particular movie,’ he said. He used similar methods to mine detailed product and supply chain data.”

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Commentary on the announcement also appears in greenBiz, Sustainable Brands, TriplePundit and Environmental Leader.

Image credit: The Earth Institute Columbia University at http://earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/3011

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