Eco-Labelling: What Does It Mean?
Yesterday I was looking for the carbon footprint of shampoo for a client project and found that Boots were now using the Carbon Trust’s new(ish) carbon label (right). One bottle of shampoo is apparently responsible for 148g of carbon dioxide. The other product that has been labelled in this way is Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps – 75g a packet. While this is very useful for those of us who need this sort of information to calculate carbon footprints, it left me wondering what it will mean to the shopper in the aisle of their local hypermarket. Is 75g a packet high or low? Is 148g a bottle good or bad?
The main advantage seems to be pressure on the manufacturers. Walkers claim that they have reduced their footprint by a third before the label was published.
The EU Ecolabel (left) does show the average punter whether or not a particular product (ranging from mattresses to campsites) actually meets best environmental practice. But have you ever actually seen one on a product? And would you choose, say, your new shoes based on this label?
I also worry that the logo is a bit weak and fluffy – one of the basic principles of marketing a ‘green’ product to the mass market is to avoid anything that even hints at treehugging.
The most effective label is undoubtedly the A-G rating on white goods. These have transformed the market: the market share of A-rated white goods sold has risen from 0% in 1996/97 to 74% in 2005/06. There has long been talk of extending this scheme to consumer electronics such as TVs and DVD players and a similar scheme has started for windows. The label is bold, clear and the consumer knows exactly what they are getting – and who would want a product with a big ‘D’ on it?