Carbon footprint standard planned for products

A single standard to measure the embodied greenhouse gas emissions in products and services is to be developed, the Environment Department (DEFRA) and Carbon Trust said yesterday

The government, the Carbon Trust, which advises companies on carbon management, and BSI British Standards will work together to develop a UK standard which they hope will lead to an internationally agreed methodology.

The move follows concern that governments, public bodies and businesses would develop separate approaches to carbon labelling, which could confuse consumers.

BSI will oversee the development of a “publicly available specification” based on the Carbon Trust's methodology, currently being tested by Boots, Innocent and Walkers Crisps. Under the Carbon Trust scheme, labelling informs consumers of the size of a product carbon footprint from source to shelf, and indicates that the company has pledged to reduce that footprint within two years.

Since the Carbon Trust published its first draft methodology in March, organisations including Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Cadbury Schweppes and the British Retail Consortium have said they would work with the Trust to develop it.

“Our work to date on carbon footprinting shows there is real appetite among business to tackle the indirect emissions from their supply chains and to offer clear information to consumers on the carbon impact of their products and services,” said Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay. “In order for even more businesses to use this approach it is essential that we develop one universally accepted methodology.”

A technical advisory group and an initial consultation this summer will help inform the final standard.

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