We can all agree that for right now, green labeling is a bit of a crock. It's tough to identify it, let alone figure out if it's truthful or not. You need to be quite the sleuth. While industries and non-profits are working on getting better labeling systems going, some start-ups are working on making labels a little more transparent. Example: eFormic and their CO2Code idea for creating a carbon bar code for products.eFormic has just launched a product that works with manufacturers who are putting out carbon neutral products. It relies heavily, though, on offsets.
The idea is that eFormic brings together carbon brokers, carbon trading platforms and product makers to place a CO2Code barcode on the company's products that have been neutralized through carbon credits. The consumer can then take that label, enter it into the CO2Code website and read about exactly where that company directed their offsets. There's another element that might be added in where the consumer can tell the company how they want the product offset.
It sounds like an excellent idea at first glance, and something that would probably get buyers on board in a limited way. After all, we all want help choosing items and making good decisions - and thankfully start-ups like this, as well as organizations like Good Guide are helping us out. But the CO2Code doesn't necessarily solve a larger problem.
The push we really want to see companies making is a shift in what they produce and how they produce it so that it is carbon neutral - not just feeding funds into an emerging carbon market. What we'd love to see even more than a bar code are accurate and trustworthy carbon footprint labels, along the same lines as nutrition facts.
However, if the carbon market is coming (and all signs point to go) then this is a savvy business idea that could help customers understand and potentially direct a bit of the carbon impact of their purchases.
More on Carbon Footprint of Products
The Rising Value of the Global Carbon Market
Paying for One's "Carbon Sins" May Cost Pennies
Carbon Footprint Labels for UK Produce
Carbon Calculator for Online Shopping Measures Footprint of E-Commerce