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UK publishes carbon footprint assessment guidelines

Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the Carbon Trust, and the British Standards Institute (BSI), have launched a new specification for assessing the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services.

It is not exactly a standard but a guideline that might clarify the way producers of food, consumer goods and services do act to cut emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases linked to their products and services.

The guideline, known as PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 2050, has been developed following a rigorous consultation process, involving almost a thousand experts from within the UK and internationally. It is intended to provide detailed specification for counting the greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, embedded in goods and services throughout their entire life cycle - from sourcing raw materials, through to manufacture, distribution, use and disposal. It should also facilitate the evaluation of alternative product configurations, sourcing and manufacturing methods, raw material choices and supplier selection, and therefore be used to enhance environmental competitiveness.

Implementation of the guideline remains voluntary, but companies referring to it must use it entirely.

The Carbon Trust has already piloted PAS 2050 with 75 product ranges from companies such as including: PepsiCo, Boots, Innocent, Marshalls, Tesco, Cadbury, Halifax, Coca Cola, or Kimberly Clark. The test helped cosmetics retailer Boots to redesign the logistics networkof its Botanics shampoo, so that products could be delivered direct to stores, reducing road miles and packaging. This alone has reduced the carbon footprint of making the shampoo by 10 per cent.

PAS 2050 may be downloaded from the BSI’s website at:

Vincent Gallon

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