“Tesco to put carbon scores on goods” says The Torygraph. Sounds like a good idea in principle. Do go on …The labels – which will be put on 30 products, including tomatoes, potatoes, orange juice, light bulbs and washing detergent – will detail how many grams of CO2 were created in their production, packaging, distribution and disposal. Well, that still sounds good. Whats the downside?

However, the scheme has come under fire from rival retailers, consumer groups and academics, who say shoppers – already bombarded by complex information on packaging – will be further confused. Hmmm. Sounds like typical whinging. Paul Monaghan, the head of ethics at the Co-operative group, said: “It is unfair to put the burden on to the consumer. “It should be up to retailers to use the information to lower their emissions.” Sounds barking. If people will avoid higher-carbon stuff, then good. They need the information to do so, though. Hopefully the info will be reliable, though I’m not sure how that will be established. Hopefully also Waitrose will start doing this.

Comments

  1. #1 John Fleck
    2008/04/28

    Someone – either NPR or the BBC, those are the only two audio news sources I listen to – did a piece on this issue a month or so ago. They interviewed the Tesco people, who talked about how hard it was to actually come up with reliably accurate numbers once they committed last year to doing this.

  2. #2 Brian D
    2008/04/28

    Just out of curiosity (from across the Atlantic), how many of the complaints are stemming from groups that are arguing pro-market positions (the free market fairy‘s invisible fist and all that)? If this number is greater than zero, they’re not just barking, they’re hypocritical, for reasons you already covered.

    FWIW, I think this is an excellent idea, and wonder how far it’ll spread.

    [Some of the complaints are from competitors. They may fear it as a popular idea, and not have the scale available to afford the investment to do it; Tesco is our largest retailer. Some are, oddly enough, from consumer groups, who seem to fear "confusion" amongst the public. Arguably they fear loss of their gatekeeper role... -W]

  3. #3 Michael
    2008/04/29

    I think we should include how many farts were released into the atmosphere during the boxing of the product, too.

    Holy god, we have enough info on the side of boxes, this is just goofy, extraneous info that we don’t need. What next? How much carbon monoxide the employees released into the atmosphere on the way to *box* the item. Haha. Enough, this is absurd.

  4. #4 MikeB
    2008/04/29

    Hmmm…I’ve just noticed that my local Sainsburys is stocking bird boxes made in China, and wooden garden furnture made in Vietnam. Since both are well-known for using illegally logged timber, and there is no sign of a FSC logo anywhere, its a good bet that both products are well dodgy.

    I’m pretty sure that Tesco is stocking exactly the kind of stuff, sourced in much the same way. Putting the carbon footprint on a packet is no bad thing, but the reality is that all supermarkets exist at least in part because of the availablity of relatively cheap fossil fuel for production, distribution, and their customers transportation.

    And of course I’m as much to blame as everybody else, since my ISP is….Tesco’s.

  5. #5 jayh
    2008/04/29

    More idiotic fluff.

    It simply is not possible to come up with a number on a vast array of products. To do so would require detailed knowledge of the construction of the product, the sub contractors, their sub contractors, their sources. Often even the primary manufacturer cannot provide all that information except in the case of expensive regulated goods.

    Feel-good at its feel-goodiest

  6. #6 Benjamin Franz
    2008/04/30

    I hate to put this here, but since I don’t know a more direct contact route and the relevant posts are very old….

    William, you may want to close betting on the sea ice extent this year. CU-Boulder just published a prediction of 3 in 5 odds of breaking the low Arctic sea ice record this year.

  7. #7 Dagny McKinley
    2008/05/14

    Honestly, how stupid do they think the consumer is. It’s like a bad blond joke (and I’m blond)that information on labels just confuses the consumer. For those that don’t care about CO2 emissions, they’ll disregard the information anyway, but for the consumer who wants to make a difference and help protect the environment, as you say, they need information.

    Dagny McKinley
    http://www.onnotextiles.com
    organic apparel

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