Economy Cross Sign

Are carbon labelling schemes on products helping or hindering consumer choice?

And are they actually assisting consumers to become more sustainable?

Sales of green and organic merchandise have certainly increased over the past decade.  And research out of the UK (DEFRA) suggests that “…47% of shoppers were more likely to choose low-carbon-labelled goods over non-labelled goods, whilst 21% said that they would pay more (but not how much more) for products bearing a carbon-related label”.

But – then there’s the other side of the equation…

Research from Consumer Focus suggests people spend ~16 seconds in a supermarket aisle – in the whole isle, not just in choosing one product…  Is it therefore unrealistic to think that anyone (except for a relative minority of dedicated green consumers) will spend time comparing the carbon footprints of products”.

So what is the ultimate value of carbon labelling your own products?

Your answers to the following questions may provide you with a bit more clarity regarding the above issue, or may just confuse you more:

  • Is 125 g of CO2 for a packet of hot chips a lot or a little?  And what does this actually mean?
  • What are the risks to your products if you do incorporate carbon labelling on them?  ie.  what if your footprint is lower than your competitors? or higher?
  • Which would you buy – low fat yogurt with a high carbon footprint, or high fat yogurt with a low carbon footprint?
  • How long is the piece of string – ie. your own carbon footprint?  And to what standards has it been certified against (if at all).


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