A Boston-based startup Sourcemap uses mapping software to calculate the carbon used to produce the things we eat, use and wear. The project began as the MIT PhD thesis of founder Leonardo Bonanni, and was first registered as a .org site, but has since become commercialized as a means for companies to communicate their environmental consciousness transparently, as well as to encourage them to optimize their supply chains with their environmental impacts in mind. The above Sourcemap of the components and finished products for a laptop computer is among the more detailed, progressing from the mining of raw materials, the manufacture of component parts, the assembly, and then on to distribution.
The Sourcemap site enlists both companies and individuals to research, create and share their own Sourcemaps for the products they create and use. The map interface allows users to pinpoint the sources of various materials that go into the production of a finished product as well as calculation tools to translate the distance these raw materials and the finished product travel into the amount of carbon that was used. Companies or food producers can also include a barcode on their product packaging that can be scanned at the point of purchase to inform consumers of the carbon footprint of their goods.
The ultimate ambition of the site is to support eco-design and to help small businesses to account for, and improve, their performance. Through transparency, the site helps to re-organize supply chains for social and environmental benefit.