Carbon label concept begins to stick

Support for carbon labelling of products continues to grow, according to research published by YouGov and The Carbon Trust.

The February/March 2020 poll of 2,071 adults in the UK showed that 35% of UK consumers now feel it is important to know that a brand they are buying is “taking action to reduce the product’s footprint”; this compares with just 24% in 2016.

Almost one in four of those surveyed also said they think about a product’s carbon footprint when making a purchase, up from 18% four years ago. Information showing that the carbon footprint of a product had been reduced would also make 64% feel more positive about a purchase; in 2016 the figure was 55%.

Previous research has also shown that three in four adults would prefer to eat in a restaurant that displays carbon footprint details on its menus.

Hugh Jones, managing director (advisory) at the Carbon Trust said the survey – which also covered some international markets – “aligns with the growth in corporate demand for product carbon footprinting and labelling that we have witnessed over the past year”.

In January, Quorn announced that it is to put carbon footprint labels on 60% of its products in a bid to “better inform people” about the environmental impacts of the goods they buy.

The House of Commons environmental audit committee, meanwhile, is considering whether to include carbon labelling as one of its inquiries in the coming year. “Carbon labelling is crucially important,” the Committee concluded in a report published in 2009.

Indeed, sometimes products in the same category have markedly different footprints. Research by Joseph Poore at the University of Oxford, for example, showed that high impact beef producers use 5,700% more land and create 1,000% more emissions than low-impact ones.

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