BfG News Issue 14 - Expert View: Carbon Trust Carbon Reduction Label

14 Jul 2008|Added Value

Peter-HamblyEach month News invites an expert to give their view on a topical issue.  This month we approached Peter Hambly, Director , Marketing and Communications at Carbon Trust to share his view on carbon labeling.

On average, everyone in the UK has an annual carbon footprint of around 11 tonnes*. The Government aims to reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050 as part of the recent Climate Change Bill and for this to happen, businesses and their consumers have a key part to play.

Recent research we have carried out shows that two thirds of consumers want to know the carbon footprint of products they use. However, finding out what a product’s carbon footprint is, or how committed a business is to truly reducing its carbon emissions has been difficult.  By introducing a public measure that shows a product’s carbon footprint from source to store to disposal, with a commitment to reduce this figure, consumers will increasingly be able to make an informed choice to help lower their own carbon footprint. 

The carbon reduction label empowers businesses and consumers to create and choose products that have smaller footprints and therefore contribute less to climate change.  The carbon reduction label also provides a clear indication to consumers (and its competitors) of a business’s commitment to reduce its product’s carbon footprint.  An important feature of the carbon reduction label is that it requires that the business commit to a ‘reduce or lose’ policy, whereby failure to reduce the carbon footprint of a product over a two year period will result in the label being withdrawn.

We are proud to be a leader in supply chain carbon management and reduction, putting the manufacturing process in a broader set of supply chain considerations which include raw material acquisition, distribution and retail, consumer use and disposal and recycling. Over the last year whilst we have been developing the PAS 2050 product carbon footprinting standard, we have undertaken a number of pilot projects with companies such as Boots, PepsiCo, Innocent, Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola, The Co-operative Group, HBOS, RHM, Coors and Morphy Richards to ensure that our approach is both scientifically rigorous and yet applicable for business.

In May this year, Tesco became the largest supermarket chain to carry the Carbon Trust’s carbon reduction label on a range of 20 products across four different categories. This trial also carries a refreshed label design featuring a carbon footprint logo, the carbon footprint figure, an endorsement from us and a written commitment from Tesco to reduce carbon emissions.  This refreshed design followed extensive research with our pilot partners and consumers.

Since our trials began in March 2007, research conducted by Walkers Crisps¹, who were the first company to carry the carbon reduction label on their products,  found that 70% of consumers said that the label makes them more aware of the environmental impact of the products and services they choose to buy.  While Boots² found that 65% of their customers surveyed said they would be more likely to buy a product where the label indicated that the company is working to reduce the carbon footprint.

Strengthening the global commitment to tackling climate change, earlier this month we announced an alliance with the China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation (CECIC) that will allow us to begin work to measure the carbon footprint of products manufactured in China.   By working in partnership with the CECIC, we can help to measure and reduce the environmental impact of supply chains in China, not just once they arrive in the UK.  Many of the companies we work with have supply chains outside of the UK and this is another example of the international impact the footprinting and labeling work will have.

The Carbon Trust’s carbon reduction label has been designed to create a powerful bridge connecting businesses with other businesses and their customers.  Those businesses that move quickly to embrace the carbon agenda will not only gain competitive advantage but be able to demonstrate their responsibility to their customers and a commitment to change.”

Peter Hambly, Director, Marketing & Communications
Carbon Trust

For more information on the Carbon Trust visit or call the Carbon Trust Advice Line on 0800 085 2005.

* Total UK CO2 emissions of 648 million tonnes per annum, based on consumption patterns only
¹  Walkers, Populus Concerned Consumers Survey:  July 2007
² Boots, Advantage Card Survey:  September 2007

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