HR & Management

Walkers, Boots and innocent commit to using the Carbon Reduction Label

6 min read

28 November 2007

The Carbon Trust today launches a carbon reduction label that demonstrates a commitment from companies to reduce the carbon footprint of their products.

In this initial phase of the scheme’s development, the label and methodology will be trialled by a number of major brands including Walkers, Boots and innocent, in order to test and build consumer understanding. Over time it is hoped that the new label will help consumers make purchasing decisions by displaying a measure of a product’s carbon content from source to store.

The first product to appear on shelves with the new logo will be Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps – the company’s best selling flavour. The new packs will appear in major supermarkets and independent retailers from mid-April and people will also be able to read more about the initiative on a new website.

Boots will be introducing point of sale material with the label to accompany the launch of Botanics and Ingredients range shampoos with a reduced carbon footprint. They will also be giving advice to consumers on how they can reduce their personal carbon footprints. This material is expected to be in more than 250 stores from July.

Innocent will be displaying the label for all smoothie recipes on the company website, starting with the mango and passionfruit smoothie today.

The label is based on an experimental methodology developed by the Carbon Trust during the past 18 months for measuring embodied carbon and will be applicable to a wide range of products. As part of the initial phase of the scheme, the methodology will be reviewed by a specially-created Technical Advisory Group chaired by Jim Skea, research director of the UK Energy Resource Centre, with members from across Government, business, environment and consumer groups. The review will include a detailed consultation with industry and stakeholders.

Companies displaying the label will sign up to a ‘reduce it or lose it’ clause whereby if they fail to reduce the carbon footprint of the product over a two year period they will have the label withdrawn by the Carbon Trust.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, commented: “Everything we do or buy has a carbon impact and it is clear that consumers and business want to take action to help tackle climate change. We believe this label, with its built-in commitment to reduce the product’s carbon footprint, will act as a powerful bridge connecting carbon-conscious companies and their customers.

“This is the start of an exciting journey; we do not have all the answers yet but it is time to take action. We are confident that companies will want to demonstrate their commitment to act on climate change by working with us to develop this scheme. Establishing one standard, credible way of measuring a product’s carbon content will empower consumers to make informed decisions as well as driving businesses to invest in lowering the carbon content of their products.”

Neil Campbell, chief executive of Walkers, said: “We think that raising awareness of carbon emissions is the right thing to do. Walkers Crisps has already reduced its energy use per pack by a third since 2000 and we are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our products even further. We hope this label will empower people to make more informed choices about the products they buy.”

Andrew Jenkins, sustainable development manager os Boots, said:”Working with the Carbon Trust has enabled Boots to measure and subsequently reduce the carbon footprint of everyday products such as shampoo by as much as 20 per cent. With Boots as the most trusted brand in the UK, providing this information and advice to customers on reducing personal carbon footprints will raise public awareness about the part we can all play in combating climate change and protecting the environment.”

Richard Reed, co-founder of innocent, added: “Innocent wanted to know where every last gram of CO2 was being generated across our entire business system. Now we can make sure that we reduce our footprint down to the absolute minimum. We’re determined to concentrate on positively influencing the future, and telling our consumers how we are doing as we go.”

Research undertaken by the Carbon Trust shows that 66 per cent of consumers say they want to know the carbon footprint of the products they buy.

For products to carry the carbon label, companies will need to have completed a rigorous carbon analysis of their product supply chains following the agreed methodology, and commit to reducing the carbon level of their product over the next two years.

The initiative has been supported by a wide range of businesses and stakeholders including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Cadbury Schweppes, Duchy Originals, the Co-operative Group, The Climate Group, the British Retail Consortium, WWF, Green Alliance, Food and Drink Federation and Forum for the Future.