Carbon footprint: why it matters for TENA, and you

Let's look at what we know. We know the planet is warming due to greenhouse gases that we humans are emitting into the atmosphere. We know we need to reduce those emissions dramatically and quickly, to avoid the worst effects of climate change. And we know that the scale of this challenge will require unprecedented collaboration between every part of society.

We all need to take responsibility for our own emissions. At TENA we welcome this challenge. But to be a part of the solution, it helps to know just how much you're a part of the problem. And there's a lot more to the problem than just the petrol in our cars and the energy in our outlets.

This is where the idea of a carbon footprint comes in. Our carbon emissions leave a print on the planet, just as a foot leaves a print on the ground. It's a handy measurement of the total impact that a person, or product, or organization is currently having on the climate.

What we include, and how it all adds up

Basically, your carbon footprint is a measure of all the carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions caused by your activities across the year. Yes, it's the emissions from all the trips you took and all the electricity you used. But it's also the emissions that went into making all the products you consumed and all the services you bought.

It works at the level of our products too. The life cycle of a TENA product starts with extracting natural resources and making raw materials. Next, we assemble all the materials in the manufacturing stage. Then the product is transported to the user, and finally, the user discards it after it has served its purpose. Each stage involves energy use, transportation and waste management. So, to get the true carbon footprint of our products, we need to consider all these stages.

What it means for each of us, and why TENA believes in it

In Britain, the average person's carbon footprint in 2017 was 7.7 tonnes1. What that really means is, they were responsible for the equivalent of 7.7 tonnes of carbon emissions that year, because of their activities. The same is true for TENA. The responsibility for the emissions in each stage of our products' life cycles rests with us.

A focus on reducing our carbon footprint is the honest way forward, and for TENA, the most important one. In fact, we consider it an opportunity. Looking at emissions in every aspect of our operations, and every stage in the life cycle of our products, multiplies the steps we can take. And it's all those small steps that will get us where we need to go.

  1. Eurostat, Greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Retrieved from

"Wait, I thought CO2 was a gas. How can a gas have weight?"

actually, all matter has weight. A helium balloon isn't weightless. It floats because it weighs less than the surrounding air, just like a floating stick weighs less than the water around it. The fact is, there's an immense atmospheric weight over our heads all the time. We just don't notice it, in the same way as a deep-sea fish doesn't notice the weight of the ocean overhead.

To picture one tonne of pure CO2 in its gaseous form2, imagine a ball that is 10 meters wide and high. Now imagine 7 or 8 of them, and you'll be close to the amount emitted by the average Briton each year. That breaks down to about 21 kilos per day, or enough to fill a ball that is 2.8 meters wide.

2) at room temperature

There's a lot to accomplish, but we can get there together

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to shrink the annual carbon footprint of every person on Earth to less than 2 tonnes by 20503. That's less than 5.5 kilos per day, for everybody. Of course, this presents a greater challenge for some countries than for others, as not all countries have the same carbon footprint today. But it's clear we all need to make changes.

It's also clear that we are in this together, even when it comes to our carbon footprint. When you use a TENA product, that part of your footprint becomes our responsibility too. So, when we do better, you do better.

That's how we'll get there. Shrinking our own footprint, and yours, one step at a time.

*3) Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, How can I reduce my carbon footprint. Retrieved from*

We all need to make changes. And some of us need to do more.

Real changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns will be necessary4, and there are effective measures we can take as individuals to cut our carbon footprint. These include cutting down on fossil-burning car travel, using living spaces in smarter ways, converting to renewable electricity, substituting dairy products and red meat when possible, and choosing more sustainable products.

At the same time, some of us should bear a greater weight of responsibility. Governments, institutions, and companies like ours need to do much of the heavy lifting. At TENA we feel there are good reasons to be hopeful. A lot can happen in 30 years if we pull together.

4) According to the IPCC 2014 report

The size of our products' carbon footprint today

Since 2008, we’ve been taking steps to cut our carbon footprint in half by 2030 in Europe. And so far, we're on schedule. To make our progress as transparent as possible, we publish the carbon footprint of TENA products in what are known as Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). These are independent verifications that show environmental information about a product, based on its complete life cycle.

For example, the EPD for our TENA Lady Discreet Normal pads shows that one pad currently has a carbon footprint of 39 g. A full day of product use involves 4 pads, so that's 156 g per day.