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Tesco puts carbon footprint on products

Tesco is to test putting "carbon labels" on its own-brand products next month in a move to enable consumers to choose products which are less damaging to the environment.

The retailer will put carbon-count labels on varieties of orange juice, potatoes, energy-efficient light bulbs and washing detergent, stating the quantity in grammes of CO2 equivalent put into the atmosphere by their manufacture and distribution.

(Source: Graun

I suppose we should applaud the provision of extra information, but I'm not convinced that this is going to have beneficial effects. The carbon footprint is a crude measure of one element of something's environmental impact. But us environmentally concerned consumers don't just worry about carbon do we? (Yes, OK, I don't worry about it very much, but bear with me). We also worry about things like rainforests, and wild places and things like that. It has been suggestsed that we should measure the impact of a product on land usage using food prints.

The problem with the Tesco scheme is that consumers will be encouraged to focus only on the carbon footprint. So if it's successful it will tend to promote schemes which don't use much energy but which use vast acres of land.

This probably wasn't the intention though. 

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Reader Comments (3)

I've adopted the term 'carbon cultists'.

If you simply substitute 'Satan' for 'carbon' in much of this litany of twaddle, you could be back in the 13th century.

I have to say, though, that there is something particularly repellent about the alacrity with which corporations are jumping on this bandwagon - particularly as the ultimate success of the carbon cult would guarantee their demise.
Apr 16, 2008 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterGCooper
I was reading recently about a much better index for comparing products.

It included the energy cost of manufacture, transportation, human labour. It factored in the rarity or otherwise of raw materials and the efficiency of different processes. It allowed for some processes being highly automated and others being human-intensive.

I think it was called something like "price".
Apr 16, 2008 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I think I wrote something along these lines in an earlier post
Apr 16, 2008 at 3:07 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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