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Carbon Labeling: The Conundrum


My colleague Kerry Capell and I wrote a story this week about the issue of carbon labeling for products. This is essentially the idea where a company measures all the carbon emitted in growing or making a product, shipping it to a store and then using it. It’s an idea that retailers are showing a lot of interest in.

We talked about the problems and promises of carbon labeling through the example of Tesco. The company, the third-largest grocerystore chain in the world, is undertaking an ambitious plan to put carbon labels on all 70,000 products in its store. The idea that they laid out is to use a single number, say 75 grams on a bag of chips. Using the information, the idea goes, people will be know how much carbon they’re responsible for and have a way to cut back their carbon footprint.

But there are plenty of reasons why this is hard and maybe not so useful. (What does 75 grams mean, afterall). That’s what the story is about.


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