Carbon labelling: low-carbon diet for the planet and businesses

A low-carbon diet is the ultimate cleansing diet. It may not apply to humans, but it certainly applies to... the planet! Reducing carbon dioxide is the most effective way to improve the condition of the Earth's atmosphere and mitigate climate change. Reduction is not always easy to apply, so the search for other solutions continues. One of them is carbon labelling, i.e. the labelling that informs about carbon footprint on the products’ packaging. Such labelling systems raise consumers' awareness of climate change and support their greener choices.

3 min read


Ksenia Pisera

Journalist, popularizer of knowledge about environmental and climate protection

77% of respondents are concerned about how the products they buy affect the environment

When trousers no longer fit, and stairs are harder to climb than they used to be, the first solution is to change our eating habits. With global temperatures rising and extreme weather events on the rise, the Earth also needs a recovery plan.

Moreover, one has already been outlined – it is necessary to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C (compared to pre-industrial levels) and to continue efforts to keep the warming level below 1.5°C. This is enshrined, for example, in the Paris Agreement. Scientists ring the alarm bells: we have no choice other than carbon reduction. By 2030 we should halve greenhouse gas emissions, and by 2050 humanity’s carbon balance should amount to zero. And that is a fixed plan.

Carbon labelling makes decision-making easier

The success of this plan depends solely on all of us. Lower emissions require making greener choices. Importantly, every single eco-action matters. For example, statistically, the annual distance of driving a car in Poland is about 8000 km, and the standard value of CO2 emission for a car is about 0.26 kg CO2/km. If we choose to drive a bus, the emissions are only 0.0050 kg CO2. This translates to a reduction of over 2000 kilograms of CO2 emissions per year!

The same calculation can be applied to every area of life. Whether it is shopping for groceries, going out to eat, or commuting to work, we have new opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint every day! It is like choosing less processed foods or increasing our physical activity to enjoy increased level of fitness.

Moreover, just as information about food composition and nutritional value helps us choose healthier options, carbon labelling makes it easier to make environmentally friendly choices. Carbon labelling informs us about the carbon footprint of a product and is linked to its entire life cycle: from production to disposal. It can be introduced to any industry and every product and service. This means that carbon labelling can be applied in the FCMG industry, electronics, transport, clothing, etc.

Consumers want carbon labelling solutions

Such information on food products empowers consumers to make environmentally conscious decisions. Analyses show that this is important to them. The YouGov (2020) study, commissioned by the Carbon Trust, came to this conclusion. It found that France, Italy, and Spain were the countries with the highest levels of support for using recognisable labels on products where their carbon footprint has been measured and companies are making efforts to reduce it – 80%, 82% and 79% of consumers respectively thought this was a good idea. In Spain, 56% of consumers “strongly agree” that labelling products with carbon footprint information is a good idea.

In contrast, the 2021 GreenPrint survey found that up to 77% of respondents are concerned about how the products they buy affect the environment. 75% of respondents indicated that they are also prepared to pay more for goods that have been produced sustainably.

Numbers are numbers, but the effectiveness of this solution has been tested in practice by online retailer Oda. This online supermarket from Norway started informing customers in 2021 about its products’ carbon footprint. All products were labelled as low-, medium- or high-carbon. As a result, customers changed their shopping preferences. Within a year of the introduction of carbon footprint labelling for products, orders of red meat and other carbon-intensive products fell significantly. Instead, sales of fruit and vegetables increased by around 50% and of plant-based meat substitutes by around 80%.

This means that carbon labelling, the introduction of carbon labels, can increase sales of climate-neutral products. It also encourages companies to reduce their products’ carbon footprint. Taking such action is also definitely worth bragging about! Every step towards climate and environmental protection matters. Consumers appreciate it.

Carbon labelling for your products

Calculating the carbon footprint of a product over its entire life cycle is difficult. At TerGo, we make it easy – our experts are members of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) and certified Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard reporters. They perform carbon footprint calculations based on The GHG Protocol, ISO 14044, ISO 14064, ISO 14067, and PAS 2050 standards.

Importantly, the TerGo team also supports companies in reducing their carbon footprint and achieving full carbon neutrality of products. See what we can do for your business! Email us at [email protected] and join the climate movement!