In focus: Facing up to the carbon challenge
With the rise of climate change up the business and political agenda's, companies are increasingly looking to reduce the carbon intensity of their products and services.
In 2007 a number of high-profile businesses examined the various elements of their products life-cycle in attempt to see how they could reduce the energy required.
At the recent Ethical Corporation Supply Chain Conference various companies demonstrated how they are reducing the carbon content of their products. This was done in a manner that went beyond the traditional assumptions of how to achieve a low carbon economy, suggesting some businesses are finally grasping with climate change in a genuinely responsible and rigorous manner.
In recent years the talk of 'food-miles' has had much media attention when trying to connect food consumption with climate change. For example, importing Kenyan fine-beans or coconuts from the Caribbean may be good for our taste buds but is acknowledged as having a detrimental impact on the environment.
However evidence from Marks&Spencer suggests that such an approach although may be good intentioned is short-sighted and does not really tackle the issue head on. The findings of research undertaken by M&S suggest the biggest contribution to their carbon footprint is the production of meat and not the transportation of food from oversees.
The Carbon Trust also re-iterated such findings saying that food miles are important but are a poor indicator of the overall impact. Walkers Crisps have also come to similar conclusions. The use of nitrogen fertiliser for the production of its potatoes had much more of an impact than the transportation of its product.
It seems it is necessary to look 'outside the box' when assessing the impact of the things we consume.
For further information on assessing the carbon impact of your products and services please contact Green Buying (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Article Date: 11 February 2008