New way to compare food supply chains' environmental impact published

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Standardised eco labels are a step closer, say Foundation Earth, following the publication of its new methodlody. Credit:Getty / pixdeluxe
Standardised eco labels are a step closer, say Foundation Earth, following the publication of its new methodlody. Credit:Getty / pixdeluxe

Related tags eco claims Eco labels carbon labeling eco-labels Sustainability Labelling Packaging Claims

Foundation Earth has published an open-source life-cycle assessment system which enables environmental impact comparisons between supply chains producing the same kinds of food.

A new method to assess a food or beverage’s environmental impact has been released by the independent, non-profit organisation, Foundation Earth.

This approach intends to provide an “improved version” of the European Commission’s (EC) Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) which the Foundation says has not been able to offer a comparison between different food chains producing the same food types. It adds that the EC’s method has also faced barriers in its interpretations, as it has not been specifically defined and therefore, results can vary.   

Following a year-long research and development programme, this new life-cycle assessment method allows for the evaluation of 16 environmental impact indicators under PEF. It is also said to enable a comparison between different food chains producing the same kinds of food.  

The non-profit has made this available as an open-source publication in an effort to increase transparency and enable large uptake on a global scale.  

The hope is that this will allow businesses to transform their food systems and reach sustainability targets, whilst providing consumers with clear and credible environmental information.

Preparing for upcoming ‘green’ regulations

The Foundation also believes this method to be a way forward for businesses to prepare for upcoming EU and UK policy that intends to increase environmental transparency in line with the objects set out in the EU’s Initiative on substantiating green claims and the UK’s Food Data Transparency Partnership.

According to the organisation, this publication marks a huge milestone in ecolabelling in the steps towards a harmonised system that can be used across the European continent.

Commenting on the publication, Johannes Weber, European Affairs Manager at Nestlé said, “We want to support consumers in making informed, sustainable choices. For Nestlé, having an EU-wide harmonised system to measure the environmental footprint of our products is crucial.

“Policymakers across Europe should swiftly agree on such an approach to avoid further confusion.”

Whilst Koen Boone of Wageningen University, who was instrumental in the work of the Dutch Government to deliver an ecolabelling system for food, described the work to be “of great importance” as Europe continues its search for an optimal ecolabel system.

The methodology was developed in collaboration with Blonk Consultants, DIL German Institute of Food Technologies (Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e.V. ) and supported by EIT Food.

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