Tesco launched a labelling system today showing the carbon footprint of grocery items.
The labels will allow shoppers to compare the goods’ green count in the same way that they can already compare prices and calorie content.
The information will initially appear on 20 items across ranges of Tesco own-brand light bulbs, potatoes, orange juice and washing detergent.
The products will carry a footprint logo alongside the carbon footprint figure, an endorsement from the government-funded Carbon Trust and Tesco’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
The retailer plans to extend the system if consumers respond well to the trial.
The carbon footprint measure has been developed by the Carbon Trust and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in collaboration with BSI British Standards.
Retailers who use the labels must commit to reducing their carbon impact over a two-year period.
To date Walkers crisps, Boots, innocent Drinks, Continental Clothing and Halifax have trialled the carbon reduction label while Morphy Richards and Scottish food producer Mey Selections have also pledged to launch labelled products.
Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco, commented: ‘We’re delighted to be taking this major step with the Carbon Trust. We want to give our customers the power to make informed green choices for their weekly shop, and enlist their help in working towards a revolution in green consumption.
‘We encourage all of our suppliers and competitors to support the Carbon Trust in this collaboration.’
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said: ‘There has been a significant groundswell of interest from consumers in the carbon impact of the products they buy.
‘The collective challenge for businesses is to get meaningful information to them at the right time and place so they can begin to make informed low carbon choices.
‘Tesco is one of nine partners to commit so far to using the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Reduction label and momentum on this important issue is growing week by week.
‘We hope today’s announcement will further catalyse action from other manufacturers and retailers to drive more and more carbon out of their supply chains and products.’
Steve Howard, chief executive officer of non-governmental organisation The Climate Group, said: ‘This is a great step forwards in making embedded carbon visible to consumers and suppliers alike.
‘Consumers have been able to count calories for a long time. This label will now allow consumers to count carbon and to choose products that result in a low carbon diet. Suppliers will then start to compete for the cleanest, greenest supply chain.’
Proportion of customers more likely to buy a carbon-labelled item, in Boots survey
Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, said: ‘Forum for the Future welcomes this move to educate shoppers on the climate change impacts of the products they buy.
‘As well as helping consumers make low carbon choices more easily, the initiative will also send strong signals to manufacturers to cut carbon in their main product lines.’
Research by Walkers, which has carried the label for the past year, found that 70% of consumers said it made them more environmentally aware while Boots found that 65% of their customers are more likely to buy a product with carbon labelling.
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