Carbon footprint standard planned for products and services

A single standard to measure the embodied greenhouse gas emissions for products and services is to be developed by the Environment Department (DEFRA), the Carbon Trust and BSI British Standards.

The government said it hoped the move will lead to the development of an internationally agreed methodology.

It follows concern that government agencies and firms would develop their own standards, leading to consumer confusion.

BSI will oversee the creation of the "publicly available specification" using the Carbon Trust’s methodology, currently being trialled by Boots, Innocent and Walkers Crisps, as a starting point (ENDS Report 387, pp 32-35 ).

Under the Carbon Trust scheme, labels display a product’s carbon footprint from source to shelf and indicate that the maker has pledged to reduce it within two years.

The approach enables companies to understand how a product impacts on the climate throughout its life cycle and highlights ways to cut supply chain emissions.

Since a first draft was published in March, organisations including Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Cadbury Schweppes and the British Retail Consortium have said they would help to develop it.

A technical advisory group and two formal consultations this summer will help inform the final standard.

Tom Delay, the Carbon Trust’s chief executive, said there was an "appetite among businesses to tackle indirect emissions from supply chains" and to "offer information to consumers on the carbon impacts of their products and services".

For more businesses to use this approach, he said a universally accepted method was needed.

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