Follow Walkers’ carbon footsteps

March 21, 2007 at 3:50 am | Posted in Britain, Climate activities, Climate change, Cultural Food, Environment, Ethics, European food | 6 Comments

Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps reducing our carbon footprint

Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps are blazing a trail by being one of the first products to voluntarily bear a Carbon Trust Carbon Reduction Label on their packaging in a trial to test and build consumer understanding. (Of course, these have always been my husband’s favourite flavour and brand of crisps … so their story caught my eye instantly!)

Visit In Balance for a clear explanation of the Carbon Trust label, and Walkers Carbon Footprint website to learn more.

To calculate the carbon footprint of a packet of Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps on behalf of Walkers, the Carbon Trust has:

  • for the ground to recycling process—mapped the key stages in Walkers’ supply chain (as in illustrations 1 through 5 below)
  • for each stage—converted energy consumption into a carbon emissions figure
  • for the total—added the carbon emissions from all the stages to give a total value for the carbon footprint of each packet of these crisps of 75g

Visit Walkers Carbon Footprint Calculation that explains this process in detail.
Before the libertarians claim this is another attempt to force government control and add unnecessary costs to product manufacturing cycles, I should emphasise that:

  • The Carbon Trust label is a voluntary model for green-keen businesses and consumers.
  • Carbon Trust labelling will only be used by companies that target ethical shoppers who are, by their very nature, often prepared to pay extra for such information and action.
  • The scheme applies to products, not corporations. As such, it is appropriate in cases where reduced emissions translate into higher profits through increased sales and/or reduced costs.
  • Other green branding methods will exist in parallel.

Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps carbon footprint




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  1. So, in a standard 34.5g packet of crisps, there’s 75g of carbon? 😀

    Cool – quantum crisps!

  2. That’s impressive; I hope American companies will catch on.

  3. Hello Hekai,

    Very funny 😉

    There is not 75g of carbon in the packet.

    75g of carbon has been emitted as that 34.5g packet of crisps has gone from cradle to grave.

    I wonder how that would compare with growing my own potatoes, harvesting one and “baking” it in a microwave oven?

  4. Hi Darmok,

    Yes, I hope this will at least be an example to naysayers who don’t try to address climate change because they don’t think it’s worth doing.

    There are business opportunities as well as technology solutions that offer alternative approaches to dealing with our climate predicament. I find the possibilities fascinating and exciting, and I am still optimistic that day-by-day more Americans will wake up on the sunny side, climb out of bed, and see that the world out there is not as bad as many make it out to be.

  5. I’m only bringing this up on an old item because Walkers have recently announced they have reduced the amount of carbon in the life cycle of their crisps by 7%. There are actually a couple of complications, but the Walkers Carbon Footprint site explains them, I believe.

    There is a growing interest from companies in the USA. It will be very, very interesting to see how US consumers, who have amongst the highest emissions in the world, will react to products lowering their carbon footprints.

  6. Thanks for keeping in touch, Dan. My impression is that American consumers will make big strides forward leaving smaller and smaller carbon footprints, while Brits stand still or even step backwards from progress made to date, partly because of the difference between our governments’ and media tones and messages on the financial crisis. In the long run, my opinion is that the US is much more adept at rising to a major challenge, whether it is credit crunch or climate change, than Britain is these days. It was not always so, and certainly two years ago I was still optimistic about Britain’s chances … but this is my current view of the way the UK appears incapable of responding to problems in ways that are effective and sincere 😦

    Oh-oh. I am not becoming too cynical yet, am I?

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