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Building sustainable supply chains: consumer choice or direct management?

David Hebditch, Emma Blackmore

Briefing, 2 pages

Putting a ‘carbon label’ on products to show how much carbon dioxide is emitted during their production, transport and disposal has been heralded as a powerful route to sustainability within companies’ supply chains. Several leading firms have joined the Carbon Trust carbon labelling scheme over the past five years, including UK-based retail giant Tesco, which as early as 2007 promised to use carbon labels on all its products. But earlier this year, the multinational said it was dropping carbon labels and instead directly managing its supply chains. Many other companies are similarly choosing direct management over consumer choice as the most effective route to emission reductions. In so doing, they are shouldering greater responsibility for the emissions and impacts of their supply chains. But environmental concerns must not be allowed to trump development needs and companies must not unfairly disadvantage smaller-scale producers in developing countries.

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