SEVERAL years ago, the UK's biggest supermarket chain started a minor environmental revolution.
The company put labels on food products to tell shoppers how their choices would affect their personal "carbon footprint".
Last week it sheepishly announced it was ditching the system.
Tesco was one of several major European and American companies to make pledges in the cause of a greener globe in 2007, when global economic optimism was strong.
Its move signalled that regardless of how fast governments moved to enshrine accountability for the impact of business and consumption on emissions, the grocery industry would be at the forefront.
Tesco and several other companies formed an alliance with the Carbon Trust, a UK-based consultancy that developed the carbon footprint logo and jumped on to a nice little gravy train.
A lot of us thought this would herald a ramping up of the impact of sustainability on businesses.
Measuring product-level impacts requires standards of measurement, effective communication of the message and - for suppliers - added cost to keep products on the shelf in the face of discerning and green-aware shoppers.
Well, not so. The world is a far different place and the carbon footprinting initiative hasn't had the level of take-up from other grocers and marketers.
Tesco today isn't travelling quite as well as it was in 2007, when it could do no wrong.
What was once the smartest UK retailer thanks to its understanding of its market and customer, is no longer the darling of the share market.
It has misread its exposure to a recession that has blighted the British retail market, sticking to ways that have seen it lose to its rivals.
Tesco has lately reported the softest sales growth of all UK major grocery chains over the Christmas peak, forcing a rare downgrade in profit forecasts.
Almost five years after putting the footprint (and the systems to support it) on its private label food products, the group signalled it will ditch the information from individual product labels.
It has admitted the labels were far too costly to implement and had "failed to have the desired impact with customers".
The footprint label was seen as a point of difference, a signal to shoppers that here was a concerned grocery store working in their interests to care for the planet, giving the shopper more information to make informed choices.
Curiously one of the reasons Tesco blamed for the withdrawal was that other grocery chains failed to follow the initiative.
Effectively it suggests this was a point of difference that needed others to join for it to work.