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What's the Carbon Footprint of Your Toilet Paper?

Tesco is charging ahead with its plans to slap a carbon label on all of its private label products to denote the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it takes to produce each item.

The U.K.-based retailer said on Friday it would include the labels on its Tesco-branded toilet paper and kitchen rolls beginning in late summer. The Carbon Reduction Label accounts for all emissions generated by each stage of the product’s lifecycle; Tesco must reduce emissions or lose the right to use the label.

Not surprisingly, the company’s recycled toilet paper comes with a smaller carbon footprint when compared to its conventional counterpart: 1.1g of carbon dioxide emissions for each sheet of recycled toilet paper versus 1.8g for Tesco’s standard roll.

The company said the emissions savings can be traced to an integrated tissue mill that can turn waste paper into tissue paper in one place in order to achieve greater energy efficiency. The company’s kitchen rolls, or paper towels, made from recycled content also achieved a 15 percent smaller carbon footprint.

The company’s labeling program began a year ago with 20 products in four categories -- light bulbs, laundry detergent, potatoes and orange juice -- and now rings in at roughly 100 items. 
Tesco NonBio liquid detergent with carbon label
All images courtesy of Carbon Trust

The move is part of a collaboration with The Carbon Trust, a government-funded entity that has already worked with companies such as Walkers, Boots and innocent Drinks to test the carbon label pilot program. Coca Cola, Continental Clothing, Halifax, Cadbury, Marshalls and British Sugar are among the companies that have pursued carbon labels for their products and services.

According to Tesco, consumer surveys indicate more than 60 percent seek products with low carbon footprints if they don’t have to sacrifice cost or convenience.

Image licensed by Flickr user *clairity*.



Liquid detergent photo, courtesy of The Carbon Trust.

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