• Alice Bodkin

Carbon Footprint Labelling? Is This Just the Beginning?

A carbon emission label is one that educates a customer about the carbon dioxide emissions created by a product. This includes the materials used, the manufacturing, the transport included and the disposal of the product. The label offers customers the opportunity to see the ecological footprint of the products they buy and how it impacts global warming.

Carbon emissions of a product are measured by calculating three ‘scopes’. Scope 1 Emissions are all the direct emissions that are within a company’s control and the direct operations of the business. Scope 2 Emissions are the indirect emissions. This includes the type of fuel or energy used by the business for operations. Then finally there is Scope 3 which are all of the other indirect emissions that exist under a company’s value chain. Due this, Scope 3 Emissions then to be the largest of all emissions that belong to a company. Of course this will look different for different industries as the supply chain will alter according to the product being created, as well as the manufacturing and transportation that is included. However, companies are now measuring the emissions created across the three scopes and sharing them with customers in carbon footprint labelling.

With increased demand for environmentally driven consumption, where are we seeing carbon footprint labeling cater to conscious consumers?

Carbon footprint labelling has been evident within the food industry, signalling a shift from calories to climate. Oat milk brand Oatly began to use them in 2019. Unilever is aiming to follow suit with carbon labelling so customers are informed of the environmental impact of their choices. The giant announced that it will place carbon labels on 70,000 products, coinciding with company efforts to reach zero emissions by 2039.

However it is not just the food industry where carbon labelling is beginning to gain traction. The fashion and beauty industries are also taking strides towards including labels that show environmental and social impact. L’Oreal shared last year as part of their sustainability strategy that they will be including the labels.

Roscomar is a sneaker brand using carbon footprint labelling. The brand is sharing the carbon footprint of their shoes and also shares the industry average. This comparison helps their customers understand how environmentally friendly their purchases are.

How can brands get a carbon footprint label?

Calculating the carbon footprint of an individual product is by no means a simple feat. However, The Carbon Trust is an organisation that works with businesses and brands to measure their carbon footprint, resource efficiency and environmental impact. Through their consultancy, companies are able to become more sustainable and hold themselves accountable to their customers. From bank accounts to Amazon’s Echo Dot, The Carbon Trust has labelled thousands of products.

However, carbon footprint labels are not just for physical products. E-commerce sites and social media accounts also have a part to play when it comes to the contribution of carbon emissions. Carbon Finger Print is an organisation that seeks to make social media climate positive by affordably measuring minimising and capturing the environmental impact of a brand’s digital channels.

Carbon emission labelling is just in its infancy. However with the Race to Zero and more companies pledging to reduce emissions, carbon footprint labels will become mainstream and a standard procedure when it comes to educating a customer about a product.

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