The German tech group SAP has said it hopes some of the world’s largest corporations will ultimately be “forced” to install a new software suite that can measure and analyse the carbon footprint of individual products.

Fifteen businesses, including Dax-listed chemical and auto manufacturers, and US and European leaders in the energy, mining, health, food and engineering sectors, have begun to incorporate the system, SAP said, which would “have a ripple effect” on their competitors.

The suite, part of a programme called Climate 21, seeks to give companies accurate measures of the carbon cost of their entire supply chains, including production, raw materials, energy use, transport and disposal.

A number of enterprise software firms already offer environmental impact assessment products, but SAP, which has roughly 440,000 customers and claims its technology is involved in almost 80 per cent of the world’s transactions, said it believed it was well-positioned to “create a network effect”.

“As we run the supply chains of the largest companies in the world . . . we are predestined to help companies manage their ‘green line’ by minimising the carbon footprint and negative environmental impact of their products,” said Thomas Saueressig, SAP’s board member for product engineering. 

“We produce software that runs companies . . . from procurement to production, manufacturing, transportation management, financial operations, distribution and logistics,” he added.

Mr Saueressig said that SAP customers using the new suite will be able to offer measures of their CO2 emissions to consumers, who would then have “tough questions” for competitors who are not as transparent.

The Walldorf-based company, which is Europe’s largest software company, has been largely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic. However it has been rocked by a series of management changes, including the departure of two chief executives within the space of six months.

Additionally, SAP has long struggled with low customer satisfaction ratings, as companies complain of a lack of integration between its various newly-acquired products.

It said this new product would be welcomed by companies looking to “transition to a low-carbon economy”.

Döhler, a specialised food ingredients company known for producing the colouring in gummy bears, is among the first SAP customers to use the suite to assess its 15,000 products, which contain some 5,000 raw materials.

It said it picked the software because it was designed to run in conjunction with SAP’s core resource-management platform S4/Hana.

“We have all the prerequisites,” said chief executive Andreas Klein. “We run S4/Hana, so it was pretty much a plug and play. Now it’s about customising a little bit more, getting all the data in.”

“What you don’t measure, you don’t manage,” he added.

The software will initially focus on CO2 emissions in specific industries, but will soon measure NOx and methane emissions, as well as energy, plastic, water, and land use. 

Mr Saueressig said that SAP’s software would also improve as it became more widespread. “The more companies join, the better we can improve our algorithms,” he said.

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