The world needs a meaningful measure developed for products (and services) that provide information about life cycle environmental/social impact. How much energy is used, how much waste is produced, water used, if they stay under a certain carbon footprint (or zero footprint), etc. We can get started by reading the Circularity Gap Report by Circle Economy. In this report, they provide a useful measure called the “global circularity metric,” which basically is a ratio of (re-)cycled materials to total material inputs. Currently, they calculate this number to only be at 9.1% globally, which obviously leaves tons of room for growth. There are many other aspects that contribute to circularity though (as they point out in the report), not just amount recycled. How about energy used, for example?

Enter Budweiser, king of beers, surely you’ve heard of them. AB InBev promised to make all it’s beers with 100% renewable energy by 2025, starting with Budweiser. They’ve even got a label for it that will go on every bottle:

Bud sticker

(Source: Fast Company)

And according the this Fast Company article:

Every day around the world, 41 million Budweisers are sold, and the company says switching to renewable electricity in Bud brewing operations is the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road every year.

Holy schneikees!¬† It’s a big deal that consumers would probably do well to be made more aware of, hence the need for “labels for impact.” In the latest “2018 State of Green Business” report by GreenBiz and Trucost, you can read the following:

About 75 percent of global companies consider consumers as one of the key drivers of risks and opportunities related to carbon emissions from their products and services.

and

In fact, a shift in consumer preference towards sustainable purchases is becoming more prominent. About 66 percent of consumers around the world are willing to pay a premium for sustainable goods, compared to 55 percent, according to the Nielsen Global Sustainability Report. More consumers tend to buy sustainable goods when they have direct benefits on health and wellbeing, such as natural ingredients or organic production practices, according to Euromonitor.

and, finally:

With the shift in consumer preference towards sustainable goods, companies may expect opportunities for greener products and services to grow in future.

There is interest in this opportunity on both the company and consumer side. Just think, you could have a little QR code there next to an impact label so people could quickly get more information about your company’s smart, money-saving and responsible actions to protect the environment. Or maybe for now, the QR code links you to the label.

There are many certification programs in existence, and “ecolabels” that can be sought, for example the “Global Green Tag.” Those are helpful, but you have to understand what’s involved with the certification and what it means; let’s think more along the lines of the nutritional value tables you see on food items, simple and universal. Then we would know exactly what the measures mean. You could be one of those people that says, “In my household, no products with an impact number of over 20 are allowed!” and fun things like that. We could take measuring our carbon footprint to more of an exact science!

Labels for Impact would be good

  1. For the economy: companies are rewarded for good behavior, and save money by designing out wasteful and harmful practices
  2. For humanity: people can better understand the impacts of their purchases, and buy stuff that reflects their values
  3. For the environment: environmental externalities and harmful practices will be reduced

Any thoughts on how to make this work? Please comment.

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