In response to your recent article we wanted to clarify the role of the carbon label within our overall supply chain footprinting work with business around the world.

With the inception of our footprinting methodology in 2007 our aim was to create a market for robust, independent carbon footprinting for the B2B and B2C market. This commitment remains. However, the means we are now using has changed dramatically since Walkers first put our label on their crisps. Encouragingly over the past five years we have seen the birth of a significant new global market in carbon footprinting and certification.

This we welcome. In addition to product and service footprinting, we measure, manage and reduce direct organisational carbon footprints, and we have seen the Carbon Trust Standard go from strength to strength since its launch in 2008. In fact according to the British Retail Consortium, businesses certified to the Carbon Trust Standard, which include Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks & Spencer and the John Lewis Partnership, account for over 50% of the total UK retail market.

Our carbon labelling work to date has not come without challenges. But there have also been many successes. Over the past five years we have worked closely with over a hundred companies on thousands of carbon footprints around the world.  We continue to be a pioneer in this field and are proud to have certified 27,000 product carbon footprints. The Label is now licensed for use in 19 countries on product and services with an annual sales value of £3bn, including well-known household items such as Walkers Crisps, Kingsmill bread and Quaker Oats. retailers, producers and consumers all benefit from carbon footprinting through cost reduction and environmental responsibility.

Tesco has stated that it is “not abandoning carbon labelling”, is “learning a huge amount from the Carbon Trust labelling” and is “using that knowledge to improve the system we now use so that we can do even more to help our customers live greener lives”. The Carbon Trust supports this endeavour, and we look forward to working with retailers to adapt to changing consumer and business needs whilst maintaining the quality and integrity in our certification. Contrary to your article, it in no way ‘throws the Trust’s future into doubt’. At most, Tesco’s activity accounted for less than 10% of our certification revenue. Our footprinting and certification business spans product, organisational and sector based footprinting, verification and labelling in the UK and around the world. 

We already provide product category to PAS 2050: 2011 and the GHG Protocol Product Standard, as well as a range of other bespoke verification services. We continue to develop and implement leading-edge services to enable our customers to retain their competitive advantage, including the category footprinting and hot-spotting methodologies aligned to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, demonstrated in our work with Whitbread and the Information and Communication Technology Working Group.

The Carbon Label will remain a prestigious mark which we will provide for brands looking to communicate the action that they have taken to reduce carbon emissions from their supply chain on a product or service level. For many brands, being able to use a third party verified label is an important part of their brand strategy in communicating a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

As a company with a mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, the Carbon Trust welcomes any addition to the debate that helps drive carbon out of products, services and value chains around the world.

Darran Messem, managing director certification and director international of the Carbon Trust