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UK Launches Carbon Footprint Standard

carbonfootprintlabel1008.jpgBSI British Standards, the Carbon Trust and Defra have launched a new standard to help businesses assess the carbon footprint of their goods and services. The standard, called PAS 2050, measures the GHG emissions in goods and services throughout their entire life cycle, from sourcing raw materials, through to manufacture, distribution, use and disposal.

The aim of the new standard is to help businesses move beyond managing the emissions their own processes create and to look at the opportunities for reducing emissions in the design, making and supplying of products.

The Carbon Trust has already piloted PAS 2050 with 75 products from a wide range of companies, including Boots, Tesco, Cadbury and Kimberly-Clark to name a few.

A draft version of the standard began testing last year. Some of the results include Boots reducing the carbon footprint for making its Botanics shampoo by 10 percent. Innocent reduced its waste-to-landfill by 54 percent after identifying an opportunity for its supplier to look at how they could increase the amount of waste materials being recycled throughout the factory.

So far, the carbon footprinting movement in the UK has seen a slow uptake. According to a December 2008 report, only one percent of all UK businesses know their carbon footprint.

And that’s with reports that have found more than half of UK consumers want information about the carbon footprint of the products they purchase and nearly half would switch to brands with smaller carbon footprints.

In the U.S., SunChips, Frito-Lay’s brand of multigrain snacks, recently added the Green-e logo, a designation from the Center for Resource Solutions used to indicate that a product offsets its carbon emissions, across the full line of SunChips snacks. Timberland is putting tags on its products.

But it’s not just brands that have long been associated with environmental causes that are getting involved. Major corporations like PepsiCo and Wal-Mart Stores are conducting inventories of how much carbon is emitted in making their products and are considering labeling merchandise, The Boston Globe reports (via the International Herald Tribune). The Globe article outlines the difficulties involved in figuring out a product’s footprint.

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