Carbon Labeling - Would it influence you? ,

Stan L.

As I sit here typing this out I just noticed that my bottle of soda has 110 calories per 250ml and 29g of carbohydrates as well. There is no protein, no fat and no carbon cost label. Why not? In our society we label everything. My medication tells me to see a doctor if I have any number of other conditions, my cigarettes tell me that they are not good for me and my McDonald’s coffee cup even has the courtesy to let me know that it is HOT. Why are we not informed by our products that they could be hazardous to our environment?

5 replies

Charles M. 110°

Such labelling will be significant on some products - those that are targeted at green aware consumers.

Putting it on soda and MsDonalds is pointless. If you're drinking sodas or McDonalds coffee you're hardly the sort of person that is going to be caring about carbon footprint.

Written in February 2009

The issue would be getting an industry agreed methodology that would be meaningful. What exactly would you be calculating,the actual emissions involved in the production of the product, but would you include the emissions involved in the growing/extraction/production of the ingredients, and the packaging? Also there is then the issue of the transportation, of the ingredients, packaging and finished product. If you also include the transport from the producer to the warehouse, and from the warehouse to the store then every product would need labelling for every location it is avaialble in. Also would you include the emissions from recycling/distruction of the packaging?
While I agree a holistic emissions label, 'from cradle to grave', would certainly have a strong inflence on my purchasing habits, unless I has as much trust in the methodology as I do in the Soil Associations organic labelling then I fear it may just be greenwash. Industry, as has been proven repeatly would do everything to avoid a meaningful label. Just look at the UK's Ethical Trading Initatitive to see how they water down standarsd to the loest common denominator.
Pete the pessimist

Written in February 2009

Charles M. 110°

And soda of course would get a carbon credit because carbonation takes CO2 out of circulation... until the soda drinker burps.

The industry would want to avoid labelling. That's not because they want to hide anything but because it is almost impossible to do accurately which opens them up to litigation (class action of people who think they've been misled) or silly rule fiddling to gain competitive advantage.

Worse still, you'll get green washers who use carbon offsetting to tell you that they have a zero carbon product, thus making a complete joke of the exercise.

Peter raises an interesting thing in disposal. If a plastic bottle gets recycled then it is zero carbon. If it gets burnt as fuel then it releases carbon (but could be offset against other fuels). If it just gets dumped as garbage then it is a carbon sink (ie. negative carbon). Frankly, I'd rather have the bottle burned up and released into the atmosphere for reabsorbtion than dumped in the ocean.

Organic labelling or fat labelling etc are straight forward when compared to environmental labelling.

Far better is to educate people that various classes of product have various pros and cons.

Written in February 2009

all sorts of labelling solutions
for many different uses.

Written in April 2011

Interesting idea, however some of the products with the greatest carbon footprints are produce. How could you label a banana? And how could you source a product so accurately as to account for how many times it changes hands?

Written in September 2011

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