Carbon footprints one step closer

The meat industry has moved one step closer to carbon footprinting thanks to the launch of a new standard by Defra, BSI British Standards and the Carbon Trust.

The standard - called PAS 2050 (Publicly Available Standard 2050) - gives businesses the tools to analyse their product's lifecycle and assess "embedded" greenhouse gas emissions, from sourcing raw materials through to packaging and distribution.

It represents a breakthrough for carbon footprinting in the food industry, which is notoriously difficult due to the myriad of inputs and influencing factors. A carbon footprinting standard could one day enable consumers to choose their food based on a true reflection of its environmental impact.

Annoucing the new standard, Environment secretary Hilary Benn said: "Companies have said they want to be able to count their carbon emissions in a better way, so we have responded. By looking at where the emissions are being created and reducing them, businesses can also save themselves money.

"You can't see or count emissions when you buy a product. But consumers want to know that emissions are being cut by businesses and this standard will help businesses to do that.

"In addition to measuring and reducing the carbon footprint of their products, from clothing, to cosmetics, and cottage pies, businesses will be able to offer advice to the public about the most environmentally friendly ways to choose, use and dispose of their products."

The aim of the new standard is to help businesses move beyond managing the emissions their own processes create and to look at the opportunities for reducing emissions in the design, making and supplying of products. This will then help businesses make goods or services which are less carbon intensive and ultimately develop new products with lower carbon footprints.