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Carbon footprint labelling headed to Australia

G-Online

Policy

Footprint labels

Carbon Reduction Labels on juice cartons show the total emissions associated with the beverages.

Credit: Carbon Trust

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Newly launched in Australia, the Carbon Reduction Label scheme will provide shoppers with a new tool to help make environment-conscious choices from 2010.

The Carbon Reduction Label (CRL) is the brainchild of UK carbon experts Carbon Trust, and in Australia will be a joint initiative with not-for-profit environment group Planet Ark. It displays the carbon footprint, or total greenhouse emissions, of a product or service across its life, from production to disposal.

The label is designed to assists consumers in making informed choices, and to help businesses identify the best opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of their products and operations.

The CRL scheme has operated in the UK since 2007, and represents a fantastic opportunity "for Australian businesses to measure and reduce their product's carbon footprint and their energy costs," said Paul Klymenko, Research Director of Planet Ark.

Local businesses were invited to start signing up at the beginning of this month, and it is expected products carrying the CRL will start hitting the shelves next year.

Already in the UK, and more recently in the US, the program "has labelled over 2,500 individual products, and has identified thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas savings and millions of dollars worth of cost savings," said Euan Murray, Carbon Footprinting General Manager from Carbon Trust UK.

Companies that sign up will be assessed by a consultant approved by Planet Ark according to a measurement process laid out by the Carbon Trust's Carbon Label Company.

Once a carbon footprint has been calculated from collected data, it will be confirmed and final certification will be issued by the Carbon Label Company to ensure global consistency of the CRL.

In order to keep using the label, companies must commit to reducing their product's footprint every two years. In this way, the CRL serves as the mark of a business genuinely interested in good environmental practices.

Appearing on products, displays and marketing material, the label will also allow shoppers to compare the carbon footprints of products in the same categories, and will also contain information about how they can reduce their own footprints by preparing, using, washing or disposing of the product in the most efficient way.