carbon-footprint.jpgTesco, the world’s third-largest food store launched a carbon labeling system that makes it easy for shoppers to compare the carbon footprint created by competing products like detergents, juices, and light bulbs.

With the help of Britain’s Carbon Trust, a government organization, the retailer is measuring the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each of 20 products from “seed to store.” Letting consumers know how much energy it takes to create, ship, package and use the product.

A simple set of numbers on a black footprint label tells shoppers how many grams of carbon or equivalent greenhouse gases were emitted as a result of bringing a product to market. It also considers the impact of preparing or using a product and then disposing of any waste.

For some products it will also tell you how the carbon footprint compares with other similar products, so you can tell which has the smallest carbon footprint.

Some labels will also give you tips about how to reduce a product’s footprint when you cook it, use it or dispose of it. For instance, the potato when baked uses far more energy than when it is boiled or microwaved.

The carbon label has been added to four sets of products for this trial: potatoes, orange juice, washing detergent and light bulbs. For each product, a variety of different types were compared — like chilled fresh juice with cartons of juice made from concentrate.
Results showed that Tesco concentrated non-biological liquid washing detergent has a smaller carbon footprint than the non-biological washing powder or tablets. This is because it has less packaging and can be transported more easily.

Tesco’s website points out that your carbon footprint from laundry can be reduced dramatically by switching the temperature of the wash water from hot to cold, and drying out on the line rather than using a tumble dryer.

When comparing the life-cycle of light bulbs, they discovered that as much as 99% of the carbon footprint was created after the bulb had been installed in a light socket.

This means that, despite being more energy-intensive to manufacture, energy saving light bulbs have a much lower carbon footprint than conventional bulbs.

An 11W energy-saving bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60W standard bulb. An energy-saving bulb therefore uses a fifth of the energy to do the same job.

For every 60W light bulb you switch to an 11W bulb you will save almost $10 (£5) on your annual energy bill. Energy saving light bulbs can last up to 10 years longer than standard bulbs so you will save on the cost of light bulbs too.

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