Product labeling: Useful sustainability tool or easy way out?

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Leonie Dendler was trained as an environmental scientist at Leuphana University (Germany) and Queen´s University Belfast (UK) while she conducted her doctoral research with the Sustainable Consumption …

Leonie Dendler was trained as an environmental scientist at Leuphana University (Germany) and Queen´s University Belfast (UK) while she conducted her doctoral research with the Sustainable Consumption Institute, Manchester Business School and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester (UK). She is currently a postdoctoral researcher with the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (The University of Manchester, UK) and the Fudan Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (Fudan University, China) focussing her work on the institutionalisation of Sustainability related product labelling schemes in the People’s Republic of China. Leonie is an active member of the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption as well as the Earthsystem Governance Network.

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  • 1. Sustainability-related Product Labelling: Useful sustainability measure or easy way out? Dr. Leonie Dendler The University of Manchester (UK) Fudan University (P.R. China) At Green Drinks China, Shanghai 9th January, 2014
  • 2. CONTENT 1. Overview 2. Some theory 3. An alternative view on product labelling 4. Labels as an effective sustainability measure?
  • 3. OVERVIEW
  • 4. PRODUCT LABELLING BUILDING BLOCKS Standard Setting Organisational Structure Assessment Communicati on
  • 5. SOME THEORY
  • 6. INFORMATION ASYMMETRIES More sustainably produced goods are usually “trust goods” (Darby 1973)
  • 7. OVERCOMING INFORMATION ASYMMETRIES
  • 8. ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE
  • 9. Behaviour driven by rational, information based choices to maximise utility?
  • 10. ROUTINES
  • 11. SOCIETAL NORMS
  • 12. RELATIONSHIPS
  • 13. AN ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE
  • 14. FOR EXAMPLE: FAIRTRADE “BANANA WAR” … …
  • 15. THE MARINE STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL
  • 16. CONCLUSION
  • 17. USEFUL SUSTAINABILITY MEASURE OR EASY WAY OUT? – Labelled products are not necessarily only positive from a sustainability perspective. – They may have unintended negative consequences. – Do I try to buy organic certified vegetables? Yes! – May it be better to get my vegetables from a small local farm without certification? Potentially! – Your personal values are important!
  • 18. QUESTIONS or COMMENTS leonie.dendler@mbs.ac.uk