In 2007, Tesco’s CEO Sir Terry Leahy pledged to track and put carbon labels on all the chain’s products as part of a “green revolution,” but has backed off the plan
In February 2011, Leahy called on governments around the world to work more efficiently with private companies to ensure that low-carbon growth innovation is not unnecessarily hindered by bureaucratic red tape. Now it seems, the lack of cooperation among companies to help defray the costs of carbon labeling contributed to killing the program.
Tesco told the U.K. trade magazine The Grocer it planned to discontinue the program after and wind down the project after finding research for each product involved months of work. Currently 500 of Tesco’s products have carbon labels while more than 1,000 have been researched.
“We expected that other retailers would move quickly to do it as well, giving it critical mass, but that hasn’t happened,” Tesco’s climate change director, Helen Fleming told The Grocer. But other retailers failed to get involved or share information to help reduce the costs of the program, making it to costly to continue.
Tesco was named the best U.K. company for its efforts in tackling climate change by the FTSE 350 Carbon Disclosure Project in 2011 and was awarded top retailer globally for two years running. The retailer opened its fourth zero carbon footprint store in January.
The chain may be backing off the labeling program for now, but hasn’t given up its commitment to the concept. “There are an enormous amount of companies that research the carbon footprints of their products,” Fleming told The Grocer. “But how do you ramp that up to the top level? We now need to make the right long-term decision and we’re talking about what we do next.”