Guest Blog: Mervyn Bowden – What’s in a label?

We’re surrounded by labels. Massive resources are put into producing tags which supposedly describe the ingredients of products we eat every day and their potential impact on your waistline, the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

We’re surrounded by labels.

Massive resources are put into producing tags which supposedly describe the ingredients of products we eat every day and their potential impact on your waistline, the atmosphere or, indeed, your life expectancy.

The issue is – does anyone read them? Do they understand what they mean? And – probably most importantly for their own economic health – do they understand the impact on price and the environmental?

The classic example is energy drinks: massive amounts of inherent sugar content, they will probably dissolve your jaw as well as your teeth in no time flat and double your weight in the blink of an eye. Even supposedly healthy breakfast cereals can be no good – you need to check the smallprint on the side of the box for the truth.

All that sort of brings me to energy labelling. (See what I did there!). If you’re buying “green” or “renewable” energy for your business, what exactly are you getting and are you having to pay more for the privilege? Should you be paying more?

Just as with foodstuffs, all of these commodities rely on the consumer being intelligent enough to understand what lies beneath the label.

I think energy labelling would actually be a useful start.

Not based purely on carbon mitigation but how about also assessing the actual cost of mitigating each tonne of CO2 from energy generation of various types of base-fuel generation. That’s including all forms of renewable energy, as well as shale gas, based on a “whole life” costing of the generation plant and other costs involved?

Perhaps given the opportunity the wider public as well as swathes of the I&C market would form a different view of how the country should deal with future energy demand, if they knew the true costs involved (net of taxation and subsidies) and with the dreaded distribution and transmission costs factored in.

Perhaps it’s time to read those labels and not just wear them!