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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 13:49 GMT
Labels reveal goods' carbon cost
Carbon reduction label (Image: Carbon Trust)
The scheme hopes to influence shoppers' purchasing decisions
A labelling scheme that will show customers the size of a product's "carbon footprint" has been unveiled.

The initiative, operated by the Carbon Trust, will show shoppers how much carbon was emitted in the manufacture and transportation of the goods.

Participating companies also have to agree to cut the product's carbon footprint over a two-year period or face being thrown out of the scheme.

The first goods bearing the label are expected to appear on shelves in April.

Euan Murray, the Carbon Trust's head of strategy, said the scheme was the culmination of two years' work with a number of companies.

"We quickly realised how valuable this sort of information was," he told BBC News. "We built up a profile, which has become known as the carbon footprint, of different products."

Mr Murray said the label would show how many grammes of carbon dioxide (CO2) had been emitted during the various stages of production, from the sourcing of raw materials, the manufacturing processes, to transporting the products to stores.

'Informed choices'

During the initial phase, the labels will be tested by a number of familiar brands, including Walkers crisps, Boots the Chemist and smoothie makers Innocent.

The first product to carry the new label will be Walkers cheese and onion crisps - the company's best selling flavour.

The really important part of the scheme is the commitment from the companies that they are doing what they can to cut their emissions
Euan Murray,
Carbon Trust
"We hope this label will empower people to make more informed choices about the products they buy," said Neil Campbell, Walkers' chief executive.

"[The firm] has already reduced its energy use per pack by a third since 2000, and we are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our products even further."

In order for products to carry the carbon reduction label, companies will have to undertake a comprehensive carbon audit of the supply chains, and commit to further CO2 reductions over a two-year period.

Mr Murray said consumer research had shown that shoppers would not be confused by the label.

"Customer understanding of the carbon footprint of the products they buy is growing," he said.

"Longer term, we may see this label appearing on a wide range of products but the really important part of the scheme is the commitment from the companies that they are doing what they can to cut their emissions."

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