LONDON, April 29 Tesco (TSCO.L) is trialling
telling customers about the greenhouse gases emitted from "seed
to store" of some products, as it hunts the green pound of
customers worried about climate change.
From Tuesday, the world's third-biggest food retailer is
piloting carbon labelling across 20 products, putting a number
on the packet showing greenhouse gas emissions per helping of
certain items including potatoes, orange juice, washing-up
liquid and light bulbs.
Britain's government-funded Carbon Trust and the Environment
Ministry are backing the initiative which aims to add the power
of consumer spending to fraught political efforts to curb
greenhouse gas emissions.
But Tesco won't put a timetable on rolling out the
initiative further across its product range of tens of thousands
of goods, partly because of the complexity of measuring
"Let's see what the response to this is and in the meantime
we'll measure the emissions of more products," said David North,
Tesco's community and government director.
"This is a pilot, it has to be a pilot because we have to be
sure it works. There isn't consensus about every piece of data
and you wouldn't expect there to be."
Increasing concern about climate change has put pressure on
companies to measure the lifecycle carbon emissions of their
products, called carbon footprinting, a complicated calculation
which can include how a farmer tills his soil.
For example researchers are still trying to pin down exactly
what the greenhouse gas emissions are from biofuels, which use
agricultural crops to substitute for gasoline as a transport
fuel, and which Tesco uses across its lorry fleet in Britain.
"We need to get increasingly better, more granular data.
Better research is coming out all the time," said Euan Murray,
head of carbon footprinting at the Carbon Trust.
"But we've absolutely got what we need (for this pilot)," he
added, saying that the Carbon Trust was measuring emissions
using both its own commissioned and published academic research.
None of the 20 Tesco trial products were air-freighted, said
Murray. Measuring the contribution of aviation to global warming
has proved especially complicated.
Pepsico (PEP.N) last year in Britain rolled out carbon
labelling on some potato chips, or crisps, also under the Carbon
The project had the backing of big retailers, the food and
drink industry and of Britain's National Farmers' Union, as it
tries to create a common standard with public buy-in, said
Murray, who added more labelled products would be announced
through the year.