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The Basics

How Ambient IoT Facilitates Effective Real-Time Carbon Footprint Tracking

October 18, 2023
How Ambient IoT Facilitates Effective Real-Time Carbon Footprint Tracking
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The escalating global climate crisis and regulation is forcing enterprises around the world to confront the complex task of accurately calculating their carbon footprints. Real-time carbon footprint tracking is an essential component of an organization’s carbon emission reduction strategy. Companies can embed sustainability while also enjoying operational and financial benefits from effectively tracking their carbon emissions.

The Challenge of Tracking Scope 3 Carbon Emissions

Three categories of carbon emissions are used to calculate a business’s carbon footprint. Scope 1 emissions are those directly caused by an enterprise conducting normal operations and encompass items such as running machinery, powering computers, and heating buildings. Essentially, Scope 1 emissions come from what you burn. Scope 2 emissions are indirectly generated by the energy production methods a company utilizes such as electricity generated from wind turbines. These emissions are generated by what you buy to transport products. Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are fairly easy to calculate and can be effectively addressed by modifying company processes and procedures.

Scope 3 emissions are caused indirectly by a company’s suppliers, distributors, and customers, including other organizations. Scope 3 emissions are everything beyond what you burn and buy in manufacturing and transporting your products. These emissions can account for upwards of 70% of a business’s carbon footprint. This fact makes it imperative that companies take all available actions to understand where the emissions are coming from so they can effectively reduce them. Unfortunately, it can be extremely challenging to accurately identify and track the sources of these emissions.

Traditional methods of tracking Scope 3 emissions are ineffective and do not provide the necessary information required to make intelligent decisions regarding their reduction. These techniques often offer little more than a historical snapshot of an organization’s Scope 3 emissions. They are not sufficient to address the sustainability issues facing modern businesses which include customer expectations, the need for transparency, and regulatory requirements.

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions

Ambient IoT as a Solution for Tracking Scope 3 Emissions

Ambient IoT offers a game-changing, cutting-edge solution to the problem of obtaining visibility into and monitoring Scope 3 carbon emissions. It is a paradigm-shifting technology that enables devices like Wiliot’s IoT Pixels that power themselves by harnessing radio waves available throughout the environment. Wiliot’s IoT Pixels are postage stamp-sized compute devices that can be attached to or embedded in virtually anything to send real-time tracking of location and environmental conditions. Eliminating the need for an expensive power source enables and leveraging existing wireless infrastructure. Ambient IoT devices cost-effectively enable the tracking at product level, previously difficult or impossible to monitor. Legacy technology does not have the capabilities to efficiently track usage in the physical world. Ambient IoT provides an effective and efficient method of capturing this elusive data.

Wiliot’s innovative IoT Pixels leverage this technology to allow businesses to obtain real-time, primary data such as location and environmental conditions that provide item-level insights into their carbon footprint. Companies can use this information to make immediate and long-term changes to minimize their carbon emissions and move toward greater sustainability

Addressing the Challenges of Tracking Scope 3 Emissions

Tracking Scope 3 emissions is a complex task that is beyond the capabilities of traditional technology. The multiple components of a supply chain can each be responsible for generating substantial Scope 3 emissions and therefore all need to be tracked efficiently. Traditional tracking solutions require a costly labor infrastructure to collect data that is potentially error-prone and inconsistent.

It can take a substantial amount of time to consolidate the gathered tracking data and turn it into useful information. By the time the information is understood to the point that informed decisions can be made, the opportunity for action has often passed.

Automating the data collection process by implementing a network of inexpensive and flexible Wiliot IoT Pixels reduces the cost and improves the quality of information available to decision-makers. The gathered data can also be used to provide transparency and data backed evidence used to calculate and demonstrate the level of carbon emissions to regulators and consumers. The collection of real-time, high-caliber data allows companies to take proactive measures to address anomalies in the supply chain to minimize Scope 3 emissions.

A high degree of variance in Scope 3 emissions is possible even when discussing identical commodities, making them hard to track using traditional technology. For instance, transporting two bananas harvested from the same plantation at the same time to separate destinations can generate drastically different levels of Scope 3 emissions. Even though the bananas have similar expiration dates, they may have radically different levels of emissions based on how they are stored and transported.

Ambient IoT Transforms Products and Assets into Data Collection Devices

Wiliot’s IoT pixels are flexible and durable. They can be affixed to virtually any item to provide information about its location and environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Pixels can be used to track different types of objects based on business requirements. A company can implement IoT Pixels on individual products, boxes, or pallets used to distribute their goods.

Predictive data science is employed to generate confident assumptions about inventory items based on proximity to other tracked products. This reduces the need for additional infrastructure to gather information from all implemented Pixels at every stage of the supply chain. For instance, a truckload of pallets will typically remain intact throughout its journey. Tracking a subset of the pallets provides sufficient data to address concerns regarding the whole shipment.

The variety of applications supported by IoT Pixels allows companies to use them to address specific business objectives and requirements. The Pixels serve as data collectors and carriers that can be a catalyst for information sharing between a company, its suppliers, and its customers. The intelligent use of the data provided through Ambient IoT can be used to modify processes and procedures that contribute to Scope 3 emissions.

carbon footprint tracking

The Operational Benefits of Ambient IoT

Ambient IoT offers substantial operational benefits for companies adopting the technology in addition to its impact on sustainability. The raw data available from a network of IoT Pixels can be used effectively by forward-looking companies in a variety of ways.

  • Companies can streamline supply chain management to ensure goods get to market on schedule and even improve quality, extending life cycle and customer satisfaction.

  • Businesses can identify and quickly eliminate inefficiencies in the transportation and storage of commodities to reduce operational costs.

  • Organizations can minimize waste by understanding the location of perishable items in the supply chain, moving from FIFO to new models that prioritize freshness. They address the issues promptly to avoid having the cargo spoil and shrinkage

  • Inventory management is also improved through the data provided by IoT Pixels. A company can be more informed of looming disruptions, like shortages and can address them before they are felt by their customers.

  • Enable circular business models, leveraging Ambient IoT to generate visibility through the end phase of product life-cycle, for example recycle phase. Pixels can engage with end customers to send back, re-use or even resell.

  • Operationalising sustainability is possible with Ambient IoT as organizations can easily embed carbon footprint as a quality metric into daily processes to sourcing suppliers or products with lowest footprint.

Supply Chain Visibility and Tracking Carbon Footprints

The availability of real-time data from Wiliot’s IoT Pixels provides enhanced supply chain visibility and the ability to perform accurate carbon footprint tracking from cradle to grave. The immediacy and precision of the information enables all participants in a supply chain to play a part in reducing carbon emissions. Everyone from a dispatcher to a warehouse supervisor or truck driver can be empowered in reducing the carbon emissions and improving sustainability of products and the business.

Suppliers can achieve a competitive edge by exposing the data regarding the carbon emissions required to deliver a specific product to a retail establishment. Providing this information to consumers allows customers to be selective about their purchases. Many consumers will welcome the opportunity to contribute to worldwide sustainability by purchasing from companies that can demonstrate a reduced carbon footprint.

Ambient IoT enables companies to gain the insight into customer behavior and usage which is necessary to fully calculate Scope 3 emissions and reduce carbon emissions. Climate action requires a collaborative approach and leveraging Ambient IoT to connect with customers, which will play an important role in reducing the food waste that contributes to the generation of Scope 3 emissions.

Competing companies in the same industry will need to keep up with the early adopters of IoT Pixels technology. The business gains enjoyed by their competitors will persuade them to also engage in the effective and efficient carbon footprint tracking made possible through Ambient IoT. Given the triple threat of consumers, employees and regulators, business owners that promote a more sustainable approach to delivering their goods will thrive. Operationalizing sustainability will become one the most important characteristics that defines a successful business.


The challenges of tracking and reducing a company’s carbon footprint need to be effectively addressed to promote the sustainability that the world desperately needs. Wiliot’s IoT Pixels offer a low-cost, flexible, and easy-to-implement solution that provides real-time visibility, and can seamlessly operate and generate benefits to all participants in a supply network.

No technological golden bullet exists that can address the world’s sustainability issues by itself. We need a collaborative and aggregation of solutions and actions. The world needs ClimateTech infrastructure and Ambient IoT is that. Wiliot’s IoT Pixels provide a viable method of acquiring the real-time data businesses need to make the appropriate decisions to minimize their carbon footprint and move toward a more sustainable future. It’s up to enlightened decision-makers to take advantage of this technology to help reverse the unsustainable practices prevalent in many industries.

Learn how your company can take advantage of this technology by talking to the experts at Wiliot today.