Consumers and CO2 impact

By Marie Vabre, journalist for solutions

August 5, 2021

With the Covid-19 crisis, consumers’ expectations regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are increasing. Interest concerning the environmental impact of products is also growing and now has an influence on the act of purchasing. What is the place of CO2 in consumption practices ? Vetted reviews the present day situation and explains why companies must take this issue seriously because it is here to last.

Over the years, the signals have been multiplying. Despite the crisis, the fight against global warming is perceived as the number one priority of the French, for the next ten years, according to the Institute of Responsible Capitalism in its annual 2020 barometer. In addition, a recent ADEME study shows that environmental protection is an important or essential purchasing criterion for more than 4 out of 5 French people (after product quality, price and impact on health). Moreover, the fact that a brand fails to take into account health or environmental issues is a significant factor in the loss of confidence for 23% of French people (Kantar TNS, 2019). Regarding food, 86% of French people select products with less packaging (Kantar TNS, 2018).

The Citizens’ Climate Convention (CCC) made several proposals to reduce carbon impact. For instance, to make mandatory the display of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in shops and places of consumption, as well as in brand advertising. In order to urge manufacturers to move forward and allow consumers to choose products that emit less CO2, the CCC suggested the “carbon score” so that”each step should be evaluated : extraction, refining and routing of raw materials, manufacturing, storage, transportation to the place of distribution, distribution, consumption ... down to its treatment as waste or its recycling”.

The CCC considers that carbon labelling could be operational as of now for textiles, furniture, clothing and footwear. It has also put forward several ideas to limit over-packaging and the use of single-use plastic.
Once the Climate and Resilience act is passed, Vetted will come back with more details on the bill, which is supposed to reduce by 40% France’s GHG emissions, by 2030.

Increasing number of evaluation apps, scores and calculators.

Brands are therefore encouraged to become more involved and to prove their good practices, even those of their suppliers. Both generalist and sectoral online platforms, evaluation and rating apps on the responsibility of brands and products are on the increase.
One can cite : Moralscore, Mylabel, BuyOrNot, Clear Fashion, ViJi, EthicAdvisor, Ecocompare... In January, a group of ten food industry players, including Yuka, launched the Eco-Score to assess the environmental impact of our diet. It is not directly related to the coming into force of the official government environmental label at the end of 2021.
Anyway, the Eco-Score method of calculation, which has limitations, is far from getting general agreement. Indeed, it seems to favor intensive agriculture but is still likely to evolve.

From a strictly individual standpoint, citizens often lack reliable reference points. In response to this demand, more and more organizations offer the possibility to carry out a personal carbon assessment. For instance, EcoLab - developed by ADEME, a governmental agency - is a transport simulator allowing quantification and comparison of the CO2 impact of different means of travel. The « Nos Gestes Climat » individual carbon footprint simulator offers a test regarding our daily habits (travel, food, housing, etc.) and suggests remedial actions to implement.

Even the financial sector is getting involved. BNP Paribas is teaming up with the startup Greenly to offer its customers the opportunity to assess the carbon impact of their expenses and the eco-gestures to adopt. The responsible investment platform LITA.co launched the Rift app to discover the social and environmental impact of its savings. Its partnership with Carbon4 allows users to calculate the carbon footprint of different banking products. It’s a safe bet that this consumer trend will continue to grow in the years to come.

What about you ? How will you decarbonise and keep your consumers loyal in the coming years?

With Vetted, you will find the sustainable suppliers and partners, the experts of your decarbonisation. Let’s start !