Tesco Measures Its Carbon Footprint
If the carbon footprint fits…
Tesco has announced that it is finally getting underway, in a small way, on its pledge to provide item labels that quantify the impact of products on the environment from the point of manufacture to the point they eventually move on to a landfill or recycling center.
The British-based retailer has said that it is beginning a two-year trial of its carbon footprint program by labeling 20 store branded items from four categories including detergents, orange juice, potatoes and light bulbs. Each of the items will include labels that display the carbon emissions associated with each product.
Tesco has said that it has taken the carbon footprint step in response to requests from its shoppers. “Customers tell us that it is very important to them,” David North, the company’s community and government director, told BBC News. “What they have said is that they want us to help them tackle climate change.”
The Tesco program is being run by the Carbon Trust, a government-funded independent company, in partnership with England’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the British Standards Institute.
Euan Murray, general manager for the Carbon Trust, told the BBC that the goal of the program is to tackle climate change by providing companies and consumers with information that can be about changes in behavior.
“More than half of the carbon footprint of the average consumer is made up by the emissions to make, use and dispose of all the different things that we buy,” he said.
As an example, he said, “Baking a potato in an oven generates far more emissions than if you boil it in a pan with a lid on, which in turn generates more emissions than cooking it in a microwave.”
“Tesco can work with their suppliers to reduce the footprint of potato production over time; but Tesco can also communicate to consumers, through the label and supporting information, how they can use the product in a less carbon intensive way,” Mr. Murray added.
Discussion Questions: What will Tesco’s carbon labeling program mean for its reputation and business results? Will this program help bring about changes, small or more significant, in the way people behave?