Published: Feb. 28, 2023 By

The Environmental Center is piloting a carbon labeling program at the Alferd Packer Grill in the University Memorial Center throughout March in an effort to better understand what types of actions can be taken to reduce food-related emissions at CU Boulder. Visitors will be able to study menus at each station, displaying a carbon label next to their respective dish or ingredient.

green, yellow and red globe icons to be used as carbon labels in a new campus pilotOne of the goals of CU Boulder’s upcoming climate action plan is to address the university's Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, or emissions that are “the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly affects in its value chain.” Examples of Scope 3 emissions include: purchased goods and services, waste generated in operations, transportation and distribution, employee commuting and business travel, among others.

As the Environmental Center continues to examine Scope 3 emissions on campus, food-related emissions have been identified as a priority (food falls under the “purchased goods and services” category of Scope 3 emissions). The center's forthcoming carbon labeling pilot will allow them to better understand what types of actions the university can take to reduce these emissions.

So, what do we mean by carbon labeling? 

Carbon labeling allows consumers to understand the impact they have on the environment every time they purchase or consume a product. The label can include the carbon impact of the item (usually expressed in kg CO2e) or a symbol indicating if the product has a low, medium or high environmental impact for easy accessibility.

What will this look like at Alferd Packer?

Throughout March, the menus at each station in Alferd Packer Grill will display a carbon label next to their respective dish or ingredient. These labels will be colored either red, yellow or green, indicating the environmental impact of the ingredient or dish.

Red indicates that the dish or ingredient has a high environmental impact; yellow indicates a medium environmental impact; and green indicates a low environmental impact. The overall goal is to see how carbon labeling influences students’ food choices, and whether or not the labeling could be impactful across the entire campus in the future.

Have questions or feedback?

If you would like to provide feedback, please fill out the survey. If you have any questions regarding the pilot program or carbon labeling in general, please contact And for more information on how you can lower your food footprint, visit the Eat More Plant Based Meals and Snacks webage.