Product carbon footprint label

The Carbon Trust works with companies to help them effectively measure, manage and reduce the footprint of their products. 

Our product carbon footprint label is a clear identifier of products that have had their carbon footprints certified by the Carbon Trust. This is a validation of accurate footprints, providing customers with verified information about the carbon impacts of their purchasing decisions. Our label has appeared on thousands of products across the globe, positioning it as the leading label for product carbon footprinting. 

The Carbon Trust is an independent organisation and an established expert on carbon footprinting. We ensure that our product carbon footprint label is underpinned by robust and credible analysis undertaken by our footprinting experts.

What is a product carbon footprint?

A life cycle product carbon footprint measures the total greenhouse gas emissions generated by a product, from extraction of raw-materials, to end-of-life. It is measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). 

Product footprints should be associated with a scope or boundary, the most common being:

  • Cradle-to-gate: mostly used for business-to-business (B2B) products. This measures the total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials through to product manufacture up to the factory gate. 
  • Cradle-to-grave: mostly used for business-to-consumer (B2C) products. This measures the total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials through to the product’s manufacture, distribution, use and eventual disposal. 

How does the Carbon Trust certify a product footprint?

We follow our Product Carbon Footprint Protocol which provides clear guidance on the certification of a product’s carbon footprint. This consists of: 

  • A carbon life cycle assessment (LCA) of the product in accordance with internationally recognised standards (PAS 2050, the GHG Product Standard and ISO 14067). 
  • Additional specific rules to certify the footprint according to the type of label - see below.

What do the labels mean?

‘CO2 Measured’ label

This label shows that the carbon footprint for this product has been measured and certified.

Co2 measured logo

‘Reducing CO2’ label

This label shows that the product’s carbon footprint is reducing year on year, and that the company has committed to achieving ongoing footprint reductions*. 

Reducing CO2 logo

‘Carbon Neutral’ label

This label shows that the product footprint is achieving ongoing reductions, and any outstanding emissions are offset**, in accordance with the international PAS 2060 standard. 

Learn more about carbon neutral certification

Carbon neutral logo

‘Lower CO2’ label

The lifecycle carbon footprint of a product is significantly lower than the lifecycle carbon footprint of the market dominant product in its category.

Lower carbon with measure logo

Label requirements and conditions

CO2 Measured' label

The product footprint should be certified against an internationally recognised standard such as PAS2050, GHG Protocol Product Standard or ISO14067.

'Reducing CO2' label

In order to ensure data consistency, the following rules apply:  

  • Reduction is determined by re-baselining i.e. accurately comparing the footprints of two products with similar definition and scope, but from two different generations. 
  • Duration of certification is two years, and the data for compared products should not exceed this timeframe.
  • CO2 offsets** cannot qualify as a reduction. 

'Carbon Neutral' label

In order to achieve the certification, a company must:  

  • Measure the footprint within a clearly defined boundary.
  • Develop a qualifying explanatory statement (QES) including:
    • Statement of commitment 
    • Timescale for achievement
    • A carbon management plan and targets for GHG reductions 
    • Planned means of achieving ongoing emissions reductions
    •  Offset strategy 
  • Purchase high quality carbon credits/offsets such as Gold Standard, VCS and Woodland Code UK to compensate for remaining emissions.

The duration of certification is one year, after which the product must be re-certified if it is to continue to use the label. Re-certification requires evidence that reductions have been achieved in both absolute and intensity terms against the preceding period.

'Lower CO2' label

The following rules apply:

  • Clear definitions need to be established of the product, its function, the ’market dominant‘ comparator and its function, boundaries, geographical region etc.
  • It will only be awarded to a product that meets at least the following criteria:
    • The product can only be compared to the ’market standard‘ product that fulfils a similar function, and within the same geographical region.
    • No products with a lower footprint AND similar function exist, even if this product is not the ’market standard’.
    • Additional rules apply to mitigate the risk of uncertainty ranges.
       


* Our complete Product Footprint Protocol with full reduction rules  can be found here:

Part 1 – Technical Requirements

Part 2 – Communication Requirements

** What is a CO2 offset?

A CO2 offset refers to the compensation of residual emissions by funding a project with an equivalent saving in carbon emissions.



The Carbon Trust’s mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy and, as such, we will only consider certifying organisations and products that align with this mission in an effective and meaningful way.
 

Product carbon footprint labelling: consumer research 2020

Consumer research shows continuing levels of support for carbon labelling on products, with two-thirds of consumers saying they think it is a good idea.

Read the full report

Labelling report cover

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