Before pursuing the initiative the UK retailer commissioned a survey on green attitudes to determine its feasibility. Half of the respondents understood what carbon footprint meant and over half said they would seek lower carbon footprint products when shopping.
Tesco said the attitudes were an improvement on those expressed a year ago and now justify the introduction of carbon footprint labelling. The hope is that by adding the labels Tesco will persuade people to make greener choices and inform them about the environmental impact of different products.
Tesco is starting with milk because it is at the heart of the British diet and takes a prominent place in both supermarkets and the home. But the supermarket chain plans to extend the scheme to cover 500 products by the end of the year.
“Milk is not only one of the biggest sellers in store; it's also prominent on breakfast tables day in day out across the country,” said Tesco spokesperson David North. “So we think carbon labels on milk can play a great part in raising awareness and helping customers navigate the new carbon currency.”
In the case of milk, the carbon footprint labels reveal that the bulk of emissions come from the agricultural stage, with methane from cows being largely responsible.
Other dairy projects
The production stage accounts for over 70 per cent of emissions so Tesco said it is working on several projects to target this stage of the lifecycle.
“We are currently embarking on a number of research projects to reduce the carbon emissions from milk production,” said North. “For example, we’re working on using different feeds that might help reduce methane emissions from cows, and encouraging the use of renewable energy on farms.”
The retailer is working with industry and farmers through the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group and the Dairy Centre of Excellence at Liverpool University.