Consumer Product Carbon Footprints Up to 60% Higher than Necessary, with Simple Solutions Being Ignored by Manufacturers

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Research from Bureau Veritas, the leading specialist in Quality, Health, Safety & Environment, Conformity and Supply Chain Risk Management, conducted on more than 2,000 products, highlights that consumer products’ carbon footprint is up to 60% higher than necessary and that simple steps by manufacturers could save UK 1 million tonnes each year in carbon.

What is the real carbon footprint of consumer products?

It is also clear that as a nation we will have to do more to quantify and reduce the amount of embedded carbon in the products we consume, which is currently not addressed in the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment.

If manufacturers were to adopt simple ecodesign principles and re-evaluate the production process of just five staple consumer products (kettle, television, mobile phone, fridge, DSL box), the UK would save over 1.2 million tonnes of C02 each year – the equivalent of taking over 5 billion road miles off the roads.

These figures result from eight years of products’ Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research into the carbon footprints of over 2,000 consumer products and the examination of manufacturing processes to identify where this can be reduced. Conducted by compliance testing and certification specialist, Bureau Veritas, the research also reveals that most consumer goods are capable of having their carbon footprints reduced by as much as 60 per cent, if manufacturers adopt better ecodesign philosophies and commit to improving their supply chains and production methods; processes that could actually save them money.

The study also highlights that while the Government’s forthcoming Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation will address the energy consumption of large UK businesses and manufacturing companies, it doesn’t address the issue of embedded carbon; carbon resulting from the production of products or parts that are imported from countries outside of the UK or Europe. These product based carbon contributions impact heavily on our total national carbon footprint, as carbon emissions have the same environmental impact regardless of origin.

Working with Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services and its ecodesign solutions team, manufacturers can reduce the environmental impact of their products, reducing carbon footprints by up to 60 per cent. The solution from Bureau Veritas is also designed to help save manufacturers money as a result of a more transparent, efficient production process and supply chain.

Similarly, with environmental labelling (including carbon footprint) expected to roll out across Europe in the future, it will stand retailers and manufacturers in good stead to act now and ensure they have the ability to measure, report and reduce the environmental impact of the products they make to support consumers in making informed purchasing decisions on environmentally friendly products.

Xavier Vital, Bureau Veritas, said: “While consumers are making huge efforts to recycle and buy responsibly, many companies are still making and selling products that could easily have their environmental impact reduced considerably, but have yet to take the necessary steps to support the efforts of their customers. Not only would these steps help improve environmental performance and the opinion of many consumers, they would also help manufacturers improve production processes and supply chain efficiencies, and potentially even save them money.

“It is also clear that as a nation we will have to do more to quantify and reduce the amount of embedded carbon in the products we consume, which is currently not addressed in the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment.”

To find out more about consumer products’ carbon footprint, meet Brian Whitters and Xavier Vital - Bureau Veritas’ environmental experts - at the Responsible Business Summit on the 4th and 5th May 2010 (Novotel London West): http://www.ethicalcorp.com/rbs/

About Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services

Founded in 1828, Bureau Veritas is an international group specialised in the inspection, analysis, audit, and certification of products, infrastructure (buildings, industrial sites, equipment, ships, etc.) and management systems (ISO standards etc.) in relation to regulatory or voluntary frameworks.
Bureau Veritas ranks as the world's second largest group in conformity assessment and certification services in the fields of quality, health and safety, environment, and social responsibility ("QHSE") and the world leader in QHSE services not including raw materials inspection. Bureau Veritas is recognised and accredited by major national and international organisations.

Bureau Veritas is present in 140 countries through a network of 900 offices and laboratories. It has more than 40,000 employees and a client base of more than 370,000 staff.

Bureau Veritas is headquartered in France and listed on the French Bourse.

For more press information, please contact Alexa Besnard at Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services UK or visit http://www.bureauveritas.co.uk/cps

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Alexa Besnard

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