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Japan To Label Goods With Carbon Footprint Information

Huffington Post   |  Dave Burdick First Posted: 08-19-08 09:09 AM   |   Updated: 09-19-08 05:12 AM

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Green Japan

As previously mentioned here at Huffington Post Green, the Japanese are ahead of the game when it comes to carbon footprint awareness.

A little while back, Japanese beer Sapporo was to start displaying the carbon footprint of each beer on the packaging, similarly to the way nutrition facts are displayed. Now, Agence France-Press reports that Japan is adopting a standardized carbon footprint labeling system for more products:

Under the plan, a select range of products from beverages to detergent will carry markings on the carbon footprint -- or how much gas responsible for global warming has been emitted through production and delivery.


Similar labels have been introduced in other developed countries such as Britain and France.

The British take, which appears to be a private venture of supermarket Tesco, stirred some organic vs. non-organic debate by suggesting that they have the same carbon footprint. That was seen as a victory for the organic folks, who are often fighting allegations that organic foods are far less efficient.

In any case, it's pretty easy for Japan to stay ahead of the game when the game is pretty slow-moving. Not many people are even thinking about labeling products' carbon footprints, so even if the Japanese program is pretty flimsy, it's gonna look good. From the same story:

The ministry's research shows one example of carbon footprint using potato crisps.


A bag of crisps emits 75 grams (2.63 ounces) of carbon dioxide. Forty-four percent of the C02 comes from growing potatoes and another 30 percent from production of the processed food.

Another 15 percent comes from the packaging, nine percent from delivery and two percent from disposal of the bag.

Er, OK. Who's measuring this stuff? And how? And how do you know that nine percent of the footprint comes from the delivery of the chips when you don't yet know where it'll be delivered?

You don't. And I don't mean to be too nitpicky, because it's a cool program, but it's just another step in a long line of steps toward actual awareness. My first question about the program when Sapporo got involved, for example, was: Will they be labeling the beers to reflect the carbon footprint of exporting it to, say, a bodega in Brooklyn?

Yikes. That's a beer with a big foot.