Israeli exporters may soon have to calculate the carbon footprint of their products and mark them accordingly, it emerged at a conference last week that was sponsored by the Manufacturers Association and the Israel Export Institute.

At the Tel Aviv conference, the Tadbik company, which produces labels for Danone in France, revealed that the yogurt giant had asked it to estimate the carbon footprint on its labels, after France recently passed a law that requires this information on product packaging. Conference participants noted that other governments were advancing legislation to this effect, and Israeli exporters would eventually be obligated to comply.

The carbon footprint is a measurement of the greenhouse gases produced from the activities of factories, organizations and governments. A product's carbon footprint is calculated by analyzing its entire life cycle, from the production of the raw materials and their transport to the manufacturer, through the consumer's use and the packaging's deposit in a landfill.

"This is practically the only measure for gauging a product's direct impact on the environment," said Roni Komar, the CEO of EcoTraders, which calculated the carbon footprint of Tadbik's labels for Danone.

While there is no internationally accepted method for measuring a carbon footprint, such a standard should be formulated within a few months, said Rasmus Priess of the Product Carbon Footprint World Forum, who was the keynote speaker at the conference.

"Many companies are now using this method voluntarily," said Priess. "They do this because they believe that it brands them as environmentally conscious, and are convinced that this is what consumers will want in the future."