Pilot Project Will Test New Eco-Label for European Food Packages

A new pilot project backed by some of the world’s largest food pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies will begin test­ing an eco-label plat­form on more than 100 prod­ucts sold in the United Kingdom next autumn.

The goal is to offer con­sumers a traf­fic-light style label­ing sys­tem on food pack­ages to let them eval­u­ate at a glance how envi­ron­men­tally friendly the food packs being pur­chased are.

The Mondra and EIT sys­tems are unique glob­ally, in that they both allow two prod­ucts of the same type to be com­pared on their indi­vid­ual mer­its via a com­plete prod­uct life cycle analy­sis.– Jago Pearson, chief strat­egy offi­cer, Finnebrogue

Companies such as Nestlé, Co-Op, Tyson Foods and Sainsbury’s are all board mem­bers of the new orga­ni­za­tion, Foundation Earth, that is tri­al­ing the new plat­form with the sup­port of Mondra, an advi­sory com­pany that devel­oped the labels.

See Also: €100B in E.U. Spending Fails to Reduce Emissions in Ag Sector, Audit Finds

Foundation Earth is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of work from our EIT Food con­sor­tium and from the likes of Oxford University,” Andy Zynga, chief exec­u­tive of EIT, told The Guardian. It will bring a cred­i­ble and clear front-of-pack label­ing sys­tem on food prod­ucts right across the con­ti­nent.”

According to the foun­da­tion, a full roll­out is expected by 2022 if the pilot is suc­cess­ful.

Food included in the traf­fic-light label­ing pilot project will be mea­sured with cri­te­ria that include water pol­lu­tion, bio­di­ver­sity loss, water usage and total car­bon emis­sion; mea­sure­ments that will take into con­sid­er­a­tion the life cycle of every labeled prod­uct.


Photo: Foundation Earth

Carbon emis­sions will deter­mine 49 per­cent of the final eco-label of a prod­uct, with the other cri­te­ria weigh­ing each 17 per­cent. Consumers then will be able to com­pare prod­ucts within a spe­cific cat­e­gory, with rat­ings run­ning from a Green A+,’ the most envi­ron­men­tally-friendly pack­ag­ing to the low­est score of a Red G.’

The deci­sion to place the most con­sid­er­able empha­sis on car­bon emis­sions will ben­e­fit olive oil pro­duc­ers. The International Olive Council esti­mates that for every liter of vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in a mature semi-inten­sive orchard with an aver­age crop yield,” there is net car­bon seques­tra­tion of 8.5 kilo­grams.

Foundation Earth’s back­ers hope that the project’s final results will allow the new eco-label to be con­sid­ered for adop­tion across Europe. Currently, dozens of dif­fer­ent eco-label sys­tems co-exist, includ­ing the well-known E.U. Ecolabel, which is cur­rently applied only to non-food prod­ucts.

The Mondra and EIT sys­tems are unique glob­ally, in that they both allow two prod­ucts of the same type to be com­pared on their indi­vid­ual mer­its via a com­plete prod­uct life cycle analy­sis, as opposed to sim­ply using sec­ondary data to esti­mate the envi­ron­men­tal impact of an entire prod­uct group,” Jago Pearson, chief strat­egy offi­cer at the U.K.‘s arti­san food pro­ducer Finnebrogue, told JustFood.

According to an E.U.-backed Eurobarometer sur­vey, European con­sumers do not yet put sus­tain­abil­ity among their top pri­or­i­ties when pur­chas­ing food.

Survey respon­dents pri­or­i­tized taste, food safety and cost as the three most impor­tant cri­te­ria for pur­chas­ing deci­sions. The ori­gin of food and its nutri­tional qual­i­ties are con­sid­ered by 30 per­cent of respon­dents. In com­par­i­son, only 15 per­cent of them take the sus­tain­abil­ity of the pack­aged food they buy into account.


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