What are Carbon Footprint Labels?

The eco label is crucial if we are going to implement carbon allowances. Without carbon labels the consumer cannot make informed decisions and the state cannot tax him for the products that he has consumed.

Why do products not already wear the carbon label?

The carbon lifecycle of a product is extremely complex.  From production to landfill (or not) is full of complex interrelated relationships and questions that need to be answered:  How was it transported? Where was it manufactured?  How did it travel?  What percentage of the products will get recycled at the end of their lifecycle? How much carbon was released in the mining of the raw materials for that good?  Are the goods made from recycled materials? Do we include a part of the carbon from the food consumed by the workers to make the product?

That is the main reason why the labels do not exist.  The studies that they are dependent on are very complex and therefore expensive. The firms have not yet had the incentive to develop a robust labelling system.

However the firms have also got possible savings as explored in the case of  Walkers crisps when we discussed green food. The hidden carbon is even hidden from many companies and it could mean a more efficient and therefore greener economy.

Tesco has also carried out some studies and started labelling certain products and some supermarkets are placing a small plane label on food that has been flown in.  However that is no compensation for a carbon footprint label.  Shipping also has a major impact on the carbon balance so where are the little ship labels?  The only real answer is carbon footprint labels for every product.

The Death of Greenwashing?

The carbon footprint label would kill in a single blow greenwashing. It would provide the government with the information it needed to bring the advertising industry into line. Even without government regulation the greenwashing would become transparent to the consumer.

The carbon allowance system may stumble on the global level due to politics, but the eco label could bring about massive changes in our consumption patterns anyway and start to shift the economy in the green direction.

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3 Responses to “What are Carbon Footprint Labels?”

  1. [...] currently lack carbon labels that give every product a carbon footprint allowing such a system to function properly. I will [...]

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