The use and usefulness of PAS 2050 carbon footprinting and labelling in the UK food supply chain

Gadema, Zaina (2017) The use and usefulness of PAS 2050 carbon footprinting and labelling in the UK food supply chain. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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Accelerated climate change due to enhanced global warming, challenges sustainability efforts including those in the food industry. Since the introduction of the World’s first voluntary carbon footprinting standard in 2008, known as PAS 2050, there are significant gaps in the understanding of its uptake.

This thesis examines the role of carbon footprint labelling of food products in helping to deal with the environmental problem of climate change. The research looks to the limitation of life cycle analysis/assessment, together with the imprecision of the assumed scientific base for action in the context of the food supply chain. It draws upon a series of theoretical lenses, particularly nudge economics, that underlie behavioural change in market economies as well as the parallel contexts of public health. The theoretical contribution of this thesis is that it demonstrates no single lens can fully capture the complexity of behavioural change for the environment.

A case study approach was adopted to elucidate the drivers and barriers for uptake and use at the supply and demand elements of the UK food chain. Interrogation of the supply side was undertaken via detailed qualitative interviews, held at three key stages of the supply chain covering production, distribution and retail. While there was some evidence that those closer to production had higher environmental values, the power of the retail sector, particularly through pricing and quality control, dictated conditions of production. Such power worked against environmental considerations in the food industry.

On the demand side, a consumer questionnaire survey of 428 respondents with some openended interrogation indicates that while consumers show willing to change consumption patterns to address environmental issues, they are confused by the current range of information that is available. Price and quality remain the dominant factors rather than broader environmental and social concerns.

The results of this thesis suggest that the drive for carbon footprint labelling is towards omnilabelling, although voluntary measures do not provide a guarantee of good environmental performance. Consumers think about environmental issues but not a willingness to pay because environmental concerns are not embedded in the social psyche. The complexity of carbon equivalents cannot be captured in a single label, not least because of multiple
processes and producers in the supply chain as voluntary carbon footprint standards and labels will not necessarily shape business motivations for ecological responsiveness.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: sustainability, social theory, business ethics, green marketing, climate change
Subjects: N100 Business studies
N500 Marketing
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2022 12:07
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2022 12:15

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