Ethical Performance
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Carbon standard unveiled

December 2008

A government-backed standard has been created to show businesses how to consistently measure the carbon footprint of their products.

PAS 2050, drawn up by BSI British Standards, the Carbon Trust and the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), aims to provide a universal way of calculating greenhouse gas emissions from goods and services throughout their life cycle. It includes guidance on how to manage emissions and develop less carbon-intensive processes.

The standard has been drawn up after piloting on 75 product ranges produced by companies such as Aggregate Industries, Boots, British Sugar, Coors Brewers, Danone, Innocent, Kimberly Clark, Marshalls, Morphy Richards, Muller, PepsiCo, Scottish & Newcastle and Tesco. It is a British standard but is intended for use worldwide.

Defra says businesses that participated in the piloting have already made significant gains. Boots, for example, has reduced the carbon footprint of its Botanics shampoo by ten per cent thanks to changes in packaging and delivery, and the drinks company Innocent has helped a supplier cut its landfill waste by 54 per cent in six months.

The standard, which was made publicly available for use last month, has been subject to consultation with 1000 industry experts worldwide. Its development, which was carried through by a series of technical working groups, was overseen by a steering group of representatives from non-governmental organizations, academia, business and government.

Companies verified by the Carbon Trust as having used PAS 2050 methodology to calculate and manage their carbon footprint will be able to use the trust’s new ‘carbon reduction label’ on products.

The label commits a company to a reduce-or-lose policy, under which the endorsement will be withdrawn if it fails to cut a product’s carbon footprint
within two years.
The trust, an independent company formed and funded by the UK government to support businesses in cutting carbon emissions, will use independent auditors to verify compliance with the standard.

The first product to have qualified for the label is Walkers Cheese & Onion Flavour Crisps, which underwent independent verification last year as part of a pilot (EP9, issue 1, p12).

Mike Low, director of BSI British Standards, the UK’s national standards body, said PAS 2050 had been produced for organizations of all sizes and sectors and would be available to anyone, anywhere in the world, through BSI’s website.‘It’s applicable to goods and services from any country, and we encourage international adoption,’ he said.

 A group of UK industrial developers and property companies is to adopt a common framework for calculating the carbon footprint of buildings. The businesses, which include Gazeley, Gladman, Goodman, ProLogis and Segro, have formed the Industrial Developers’ Sustainability Forum, which will develop the framework during the next year. The forum will be advised by Kingston University School of Surveying and two UK-based consultancies, Atisreal and dcarbon8.

UK & NI Ireland | Standards

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