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Carbon footprint labelling

June 28, 2007 10:20 PM
Thames Barrier flood defence on the River Thames at Woolwich.

It's predicted that the Barrier only has 20 years more life in it

Money Programme this evening is looking at the claims the big retailers are making about going green. One pledge they looked at was Tesco's pledge to put a carbon footprint label on every product.

Boots had done two products, and it cost them £250,000, and the programme was fairly nonconstructive and dismissive.

Two routes I can see through this. First, a lot of that investment will be reusable; knowledge, tools, techniques to do subsequent calculations.

Second, a retailer with the muscle of Tesco can take a different approach. Bar codes apparently took off Wall-mart Wallmart demanded all its suppliers use them.

Tesco can just mandate that its suppliers carbon label their stuff. It'll be a long supply chain, but ultimately if every business carbon labels its output, you know, by the end, that the number is accurate, because each business involved can easily check that it has accounted for all the carbon; on the labels that went out of the door.

So why do I think this is useful?

There's still a lot of skepticism. 'Spring was early this year, it'll probably be late next year.'

Yeah .. thats like 'Sheffield flooded this year, it'll probably be Bristol next year.'

But why bother fighting that; if there's improvements that can be quickly and easily, and it is easy for businesses to do it because they save money and make more profit, then everyone's a winner. When the crunch comes, serious action will be too late as usual, we'll be in a far better position to do something about it.

Personal carbon allowances for example. Not much good doing that if you can't count the carbon footprint up.

And so what if its a bunch green-wash greenwash: retailers are using are helping to sensitise people to the issue.

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