Ethical Performance
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Tesco looks set to drop ‘anachronistic’ Carbon Trust product footprinting process

March 2012

The UK retailing giant Tesco is set to abandon its partnership with the Carbon Trust certification label, saying expense, time and poor uptake by other retailers have made the scheme unworkable.

In 2004, the Carbon Trust was hailed by Tesco’s then chief executive Terry Leahy as the start of a ‘revolution in green consumption’. It has certified 500 Tesco products.

However, Tesco now says: “We know our customers care about product sustainability but there is a real challenge to effectively explain this often complex message in a meaningful way, so we are currently reviewing a range of options.”

Helen Fleming, Tesco’s climate change director, said of the scheme, which specifies the carbon footprint of every product it labels: “We expected that other retailers would move quickly to do it as well, giving it critical mass, but that hasn’t happened.”

Tesco says this has meant little progress on the several months’ work required to certify every product – estimating that at this rate it would take 250 years and, therefore, a great deal of money, to label all its products.

Martin Chilcott, chief executive of the 2degrees sustainability consultancy, which has worked for Tesco and Asda, said: “It’s only four years but the Carbon Trust process has become something of an anachronism. Tesco is not saying it wants to stop carbon footprinting but you can’t do it with 70,000 lines with the time it was taking.”

Tesco | UK & NI Ireland | Certification


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