Relevance of attributional and consequential information for environmental product labelling

Weidema B P, Simas M S, Schmidt J, Pizzol M, Løkke S, Brancoli P L (2019)

Publication info

The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, early on-line view

Abstract

Purpose

Considering the general agreement in the literature that environmental labelling should be based on consequential modelling, while all actually implemented environmental labelling schemes are based on attributional modelling, we investigate the arguments for this situation as provided in the literature, and whether a dual label, representing on the same label the attributional and consequential results for the same product, can be a relevant solution or at least contribute to a more informed discussion.

Methods

We developed a dual label for three hypothetical, comparable products and presented this for a small test audience, asking three questions, namely “Which product would you choose?”, “Was the attributional information useful?” and “Would you accept to have only the attributional information?”

Results and discussion

From this small pilot exercise, it appears that informed consumers may have a strong preference for consequential information and that the main problem in communicating consequential results is that they are perceived as less trustworthy and more uncertain due to the fact that the consequences are located in the future. It thus appears important to build into a consequential label some increased level of guarantee of future good behaviour.

Conclusions

We propose to apply the above questions to a more statistically representative audience to confirm or refute the findings of this little test exercise.

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