Using this approach, it is estimated that the carbon footprint of a typical pair of running shoes made of synthetic materials is 14 ± 2.7 kg CO2-equivalent. The vast majority of this impact is incurred during the materials processing and manufacturing stages, which make up around 29% and 68% of the total impact, respectively. Other similar studies in the apparel industry have reported carbon footprints of running shoes ranging between 18 and 41 kg CO2-equivalent/pair (PUMA, 2008; Timberland, 2009).
For consumer products not requiring electricity during use, the intensity of emissions in the manufacturing phase is atypical; most commonly, materials make up the biggest percentage of impact. This distinction highlights the importance of identifying mitigation strategies within the manufacturing process, and the need to evaluate the emissions reduction efficacy of each potential strategy. By suggesting a few of the causes of manufacturing dominance in the global warming potential assessment of this product, this study hypothesizes the characteristics of a product that could lead to high manufacturing impact. Some of these characteristics include the source of energy in manufacturing and the form of manufacturing, in other words the complexity of processes used and the area over which these process are performed (particularly when a product involves numerous parts and light materials). Thereby, the work provides an example when relying solely on the bill of materials information for product greenhouse gas emissions assessment may underestimate life cycle burden and ignore potentially high impact mitigation strategies.