A new carbon labelling scheme will allow retailers to label their goods to show each products carbon footprint from manufacture to disposal.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Carbon Trust and British Standards have published details of PAS 2050, the carbon labelling scheme for goods which could force packaging companies and supermarkets to calculate the carbon footprint of every product. PAS 2050 is a voluntary scheme.
It will look at counting greenhouse gas emissions embedded in products throughout their lifecycle, from sourcing materials, through to manufacture, distribution, use and disposal.
The aim of the new standard is to help businesses develop new products with lower carbon footprints.
Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (Incpen) director Jane Bickerstaffe told MRW that the lifecycle analysis on products would be meaningless to shoppers. She said: With the PAS 2050 standard you have to ask what is it going to mean to the customer?
Bickerstaffe said the carbon footprint measurement would not mean anything to the customer.
But she said: It is a useful tool for management purposes which is a good thing but communicating it to the public will be difficult and will it mean anything to them?
The Carbon Trust has already piloted PAS 2050 with 75 product ranges across a wide range of companies including: Boots, Innocent, Tesco, Cadbury and Halifax. For its Botanic shampoo, Boots had redesigned its logistics network so that products could be delivered direct to stores, reducing road miles and packaging.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: Companies have said they want to be able to count their carbon emissions in a better way, so we have responded. By looking at where the emissions are being created and reducing them, businesses can also save themselves money.
You cant see or count emissions when you buy a product. But consumers want to know that emissions are being cut by businesses and this standard will help businesses to do that.
In addition to measuring and reducing the carbon footprint of their products, from clothing, to cosmetics and cottage pies, businesses will be able to offer advice to the public about the most environmentally friendly ways to choose, use and dispose of their products.
The Carbon Trust is a Government-funded independent company that helps businesses and public organisations to cut their carbon emissions.