Following the lead of PepsiCo, Tesco, and Quaker Oats, food purchased in UK supermarkets will soon be labeled to show its carbon footprint , including country of origin, how much carbon was produced in its manufacturing and transportation, and compliance with animal welfare standards.
The Carbon Trust, an independent company established by the British government in response to the impact of climate change, is working with businesses as well as the private sector to help reduce carbon emissions and develop low-carbon technologies. The Carbon Trust is working with the UK food industry to help manufacturers determine and label the carbon footprint of various items.
In 2007, Walkers Crisps, a PepsiCo product, became the first consumer brand in the world to carry Carbon Trust’s Carbon Reduction Label in the UK. Quaker Oats and Quaker Simple, also part of PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York, also carry the Carbon Trust Reduction Label.
The government has also asked all retailers to join the Pigmeat Labeling Code of Practice , due to be published in February, that will show where animals were born, reared and processed.
According to research from the Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University, a survey of more than 400 supermarket shoppers suggests that almost three-quarters of UK consumers agree with government plans for the voluntary carbon footprint labels. But according to an article in the UK-based Telegraph , some environmental groups believe the government should pass legislation on the labeling scheme rather than making it voluntary. Critics also feel that carbon labeling will do little to combat climate change unless more low-carbon products are available.
Working with the Carbon Trust, PepsiCo calculated the carbon footprint of a package of Walker Crisps starting with the energy consumption involved in the growth of potatoes and sunflower seeds, and including the manufacturing process, distribution, and disposal of the empty packages. According to PepsiCo, Walkers reduced its overall carbon footprint by seven percent between 2007 and 2009 by improving energy efficiency and lowering carbon emissions.
In the US, PepsiCo also worked with the Carbon Trust to calculate the carbon footprint of a standard 64-ounce carton of its Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice . Tropicana found that agricultural and manufacturing-related processes account for about 60 percent of the orange juice’s carbon footprint. PepsiCo is working to reduce Tropicana’s overall environmental impact. There are no plans to introduce carbon footprint labeling on any US food products at present.
Both Japan and Australia plan to start voluntary carbon footprint labeling on some food packaging and products later this year. The Carbon Trust is also working UK brands Boots and Innocent to help determine and develop the carbon footprint for different items.
Article by Julie Mitchell, appearing courtesy of Celsias