Looking for a Carbon Footprint?


When was the last time you looked closely at the packaging for an item you bought? While tags and packaging are full of labels, logos, and endorsements from various organizations, certain brands are about to get yet another mark. The Government has come out with a black footprint logo that indicates a business’s dedication to lowering their impact on our environment. Many brands are already using this footprint, and it is predicted to become one the most common ethical marks on your grocery store shelf by the end of 2010, second only to the well recognized Red Tractor.

What does the black footprint logo mean? It is not an indication of a brand’s current impact on the environment, but rather a sign that they are working on improving. Brands work with the Carbon Trust to identify areas where they can improve and then work toward making these changes in a sensible way. If many UK brands participate in this program and a huge number are already doing so—the impact on the environment could be immense.

Truly brave companies can even place the amount of CO2 generated by their product inside every footprint, although few opt to do this. In many cases, the weight of carbon exceeds the total weight of the product, showing consumers exactly how much their decisions make an impact. There are substantial differences between different brands and even between different ranges within the same brand. Including the number is a consumer friendly decision that allows customers to have the greatest amount of control over their carbon footprint, but it can be destructive to companies who are still in the process of bringing their number down.

Tesco is one market that is adopting the black footprint logo without reservation, following through on a three year old commitment to carbon label all of their products. So far, one hundred store brand products have been tagged, informing consumers that their pint of milk cost 800 grams of carbon while their toilet roll uses an astounding 1.1 grams for every single sheet. Meat, on the other hand, dwarves these numbers with an average of 36 kg of CO2 for every kilogram of beef.

People in the UK are increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint and willing to take positive action toward lowering it. This logo helps them in their quest, solving a common problem. Although carbon is a huge problem in the UK—in fact, the Commons Environmental Audit suggested that people should be given an annual allowance—people need tools to see where improvements can be made. The black footprint is an easy, graphic way of helping people do this.

Does your brand solve a problem for consumers? All successful companies and products do. The key is finding out how your company is going to improve the life of the people who use your products and services, and then to present this to them in a compelling way. Your logo design, like the black footprint, is your first and most important way of expressing this.