A few days ago, I met the head of sustainability for a British retailer, and he said he was conflicted about carbon labeling. There’s a big push here to add a numeric carbon footprint to all consumer products (starting with a big announcement from Tesco last year). It seems like a good disclosure in spirit, and the sheer effort to measure the carbon footprint is a good thing, which leads to ideas on how to reduce that footprint.
But, labeling on packaging is a complicated one for consumers. For one thing, it’s confusing. Do consumers really understand what a 75g carbon label on a bag of crisps means? For another thing, it can create mixed messages like the one in this cartoon.