A new initiative has been launched today to help businesses reduce their 'carbon footprint' and boost their appeal to an increasingly environmentally-aware public.
In its report, the Carbon Trust (CT) outlines how businesses can track the carbon emitted by the products they sell at each stage of their lifecycle, from source to shelf, consumption and disposal.
As well as helping the environment, the CT argues that businesses implementing its proposals could see positive returns, as research conducted by the trust found that 66 per cent of UK consumers want to know the carbon footprint of the products and services they buy and two-thirds said they would be more likely to buy a product with a low carbon footprint.
The financial costs outlined by the CT add to the findings of the Stern Review, which claimed earlier this month that if steps are not taken to address climate change then the world will lose the equivalent of at least five per cent of global GDP each year.
When a wider range of risks and impacts are taken into account, this estimate rises to 20 per cent of GDP.
"Cutting carbon in the supply chain is the next critical stage in the business contribution to reduce carbon emissions to tackle climate change and, as the Stern Report made clear, represents a significant commercial opportunity," said Tom Delay, chief executive of the CT.
"Delivering low carbon products into the hands of consumers will not only reduce energy bills and enhance corporate and brand reputation; but will open up new revenue streams and increases brand loyalty if properly communicated."
Businesses which are already working with the CT include Walkers, Trinity Mirror, Boots and Marks & Spencer. The CT claims that the projects for Walkers and Trinity Mirror have identified potential annual savings £2.7 million and 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum – the equivalent carbon emissions of 5,000 households.
A climate change bill outlined last week in the Queen's Speech would introduce a long-term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.