The Renewable Carbon Index: Everything You Need to Know

In their quest to become more sustainable and eco-conscious about their production practices in the near future, businesses that care about the environment should be willing to undergo the shift from fossil carbon to renewable carbon for all their organic chemicals and materials. One such way to be more serious about saving the planet is to transition into using renewable carbon, with the help of a tool like the Renewable Carbon Index (RCI).

What exactly is the RCI, and how will it guide your company in navigating the admittedly complex shift from fossil carbon to renewable carbon? Below is a briefer on what the RCI is, how it works, why it’s important for businesses, and how partnering with an ingredient manufacturer like Natura Aeropack will help a business like yours incorporate high-RCI, sustainable ingredients into your products.

What Does the Term “Renewable Carbon Index” Mean?

First, renewable carbon is an umbrella term that describes all carbon sources that can potentially serve as substitutes for fossil carbon. These alternative sources of carbon include carbon derived from CO2, biomass, and recycling processes. The aim of renewable carbon initiatives is to take carbon from sources that can be recycled, recaptured, or regrown, thereby creating a self-sustaining circular economy that no longer depletes the earth’s own carbon resources.

In that vein, the RCI is a tool designed to evaluate the sustainability of an active ingredient by measuring what percentage of carbon atoms in the ingredient are derived from renewable sources. A surfactant with a high RCI, for example, contains a large amount of renewable carbon atoms and is therefore a more sustainable choice of ingredient for eco-conscious businesses than other surfactant types.

At present, the RCI is used predominantly to assess cleaning products and consumer goods. However, it is currently being explored for potential applications in other industries like mining. All in all, knowledge of the RCI is useful for supporting the sustainability efforts of any industry that depends on carbon use.

What’s the Importance of the Renewable Carbon Index?

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The need for human society to curb its dependence on fossil fuels and explore more sustainable alternative sources of energy has long been a well-documented aspect of climate action. The global energy sector is currently working to achieve this objective through wide-scale “decarbonization,” which has two major goals. The first is to decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere by cutting fossil fuel consumption in favor of alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydropower. The second is to capture existing emissions and improve the carbon storage capacities of forests and agricultural lands.

However, it’s infeasible for certain sectors such as the organic chemical and plastic industries to eliminate carbon use entirely, as carbon is necessary for businesses in these sectors to operate. It’s ultimately more productive for these industries to find and tap more sustainable carbon sources than the fossil carbon traditionally excavated from the geosphere. Tapping into the right sources of carbon also provides an answer to the growing scarcity of resources like metals and minerals. Because carbon is abundantly available from the atmosphere, it could likely serve as the backbone of many necessary products in the event that other material resources are eventually depleted.

The RCI can help facilitate this transition from fossil fuels to renewable carbon by giving businesses a concrete way of measuring the renewable carbon content of every ingredient that goes into a particular product. In particular, enterprises that wish to pursue more sustainable business practices and market themselves to consumers as environmentally-friendly businesses should prioritize high RCI ingredients.

Moreover, a better understanding of the RCI can help consumers determine if the enterprises they choose to patronize are indeed as environmentally-friendly as they claim to be. Informed customers can and will look for information on the RCI of a particular company’s product ingredients. It’s thus in businesses’ best interest to not only have this information on hand, but to make it readily available to customers in the interest of transparency.

How Do You Compute for a Renewable Carbon Index?

The RCI is meant to identify how much carbon in a molecule is derived from bio-based, rather than petroleum-based, sources. More specifically, it can be calculated by dividing the number of renewable carbons present in the product by the overall number of carbons. The higher the resulting percentage, the more renewable carbon there is in the substance. “Green” products are typically identified as those with an RCI higher than 75%. An RCI of 100% is possible in products completely composed of ingredients from naturally occurring and renewable sources, such as plants.

If your business is committed to transitioning to renewable carbon, you’ll likely need a reliable provider of sustainable and eco-friendly ingredients. Consider Natura Aeropack for high RCI coconut-derived ingredients and any other sustainably sourced coconut products you might require. Get in touch with us today and we’ll gladly work with you to build a greener business.