Eco Score: Encouraging Conscious Consumerism

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What Is an Eco-Score? In March 2017, Europe saw the exponential rise of Nutri Score, a food label which provides products with a rating from A to E ('A' being a preferable score and 'E' being a bad score).

Following in the footsteps of Nutri Score is Eco Score, a rating that details the total ecological impact of a food product.

Eco Score is a label found on food products that allow consumers to compare products and find more sustainable options with a lower environmental impact. With Eco score, consumers have the power to make sustainable food choices that are good for the environment. 

How are the eco-score’s calculated? 

To calculate an eco score companies use two methods, the life cycle assessment (LCA) and the products environmental footprint (PEF). Some companies such as eco score also have a bonus and malus system.  

The LCA takes into account the materials extraction, processing methods, product's manufacture, distribution, use, and finally recycling or final disposal of the materials composing. 

The PEF methodology also takes into account all these elements but has further product requirements and specifications.

The bonus and malus points are made up of packaging used, product origin, organic or fairtrade, biodiversity and seasonality. Furthermore, If the food product has any certifications such as rainforest alliance or Organic certification, this is also rewarded. The bonus and malus points can give a downgrade or upgrade of -15 to +20 points. 

Eco Score is not the only ones who have created an environmental scoring system for food products. Foundation Earth, an NGO based in the UK has also created environmental scores for food products in the UK. Similar to Eco Score, they use the life cycle assessment model to score the products. 

Previous to the eco score and Nutri score, conscious consumerism was a challenge. Now consumers can make climate-conscious decisions and buy food that they know is good for the planet and their health. Arguably, initiatives like eco-score are transforming the food supply chain, making it more transparent to consumers. 

Demonstrates the Bonus and Malus System

Where do they get the data from?

In order to obtain information for the Life Cycle Assessment Eco Score and Foundation Earth need data on the food manufacturers. That's where database companies like Eaternity and Agribalyse come into play. They contain CO₂eq values and unit processes for all the popular food items based on seasonality, farming procedure, transportation, conservation, and processing models.These database companies have been collecting data for many years now and continue to expand as more food manufacturers become transparent about their production methods.

Previous to the eco score and Nutri score, conscious consumerism was a challenge. However, now consumers can make climate-conscious decisions and buy food that they know is good for the planet and their health. Arguably, initiatives like eco-score are transforming the food supply chain, making it more transparent. 

Is There A Demand For Eco Score?

As climate change becomes a more imminent threat, the demand for sustainable food products increases. In a recent survey by The European Consumer Organisation, they found that two thirds (66.7%) of consumers say that they are open to changing their eating habits that harm the environment. These survey findings suggest that there is a growing market for initiatives like eco-score as people want to eat better for the planet.

Furthermore, changing our diets could be the best way for individuals to help the environment. Researchers from Oxford found that changing our diets can reduce a person's carbon footprint by up to 73%. Therefore, providing consumers with an eco-score has the potential to help people significantly reduce their carbon footprint. 

A balanced diet

Start Scanning Food Products With The New Eco App

Whilst the Eco Score label offers a brief ecological description; The Palau app (a new eco app) provides consumers with a more detailed understanding of how food products impact the environment.

The Palau app was born with the mission of helping consumers and companies keep track of their impact on the environment.  Palau allows consumers to see in-depth information about the life of their food products. With just one scan, consumers receive a score out of 100, a full breakdown of Co2 emissions, what packaging has been used, the origin of the food, and finally, whether the food has any certifications. Palau provides a range of alternative products too. 

For example, if a jar of Nutella receives an eco score of 15/100, emitted 10kg of Co2 emissions in production, and has no certifications, you can look for an alternative spread that has received better overall scores. 

Palau App

Eco Score: Encouraging A New Kind Of Competition

Over the recent years, being considered a "sustainable company" by the public has become more of a desired attribute for businesses. The increasing demand for sustainable food products has led to deceptive and dishonest marketing campaigns that oversell the environmental benefits of their products. Furthermore, the vast distances that separate farmers from consumers add to the complexity of the supply chain, making it extremely difficult for governments and NGOs to track the actual environmental footprint of a company. 

However, with initiatives like eco score, we could shortly see more transparent food supply chains. 

Eco score has the potential to create a new kind of competition for businesses. Food companies will have to work on reducing their environmental impact if, they want to remain at the top of the game.  Persuasive marketing campaigns and loose statements won't be enough.

For instance, if one food product receives a higher rating on the Palau App because the packaging is more sustainable and has received certificates from the Rainforest Alliance and EU Organic, similar food product companies will want to improve their packaging and credibility. 

 Providing eco scores on food products has the potential to create a new and healthier form of competition between food manufacturers. Businesses will have to start re-evaluating their supply chains and reducing their carbon emissions to stay on top. 

Farmer in the Azores

What Scores are Considered Good For the Planet? 

Palau offers an overall rating for food products out of 100. Generally, anything that receives a score below 50 is considered not that great for the planet. Furthermore, anything below 20 has quite a significant impact on the earth. Therefore Palau users should aim to buy food products with scores above 50. 

Some food items such as beef and chocolate will often receive a bad score on Palau. These food products require a huge amount of water and energy to be produced. Therefore, they are high emitters of greenhouse gases. It would not be feasible for everyone to give up these products, but it is essential to consider their impact on the environment and try to reduce our consumption of them when we can. 

Can Eco Score have the same Success as Nutri Score? 

 

Nutri Score first appeared on food products in 2017, and it is now supported by 50% of food and drink brands in France. Nutri Score has received a vast amount of positive feedback as 93% of consumers said they considered it helpful to know the nutritional values of their food, and 57% said they had changed their purchasing habits because of it. 

But, can eco score have the same effect? 

Eco score has already been implemented outside of France, and Both Lidl and Colruyt are running trial periods in Belgium and Germany. A non-profit organisation Foundation Earth has also launched their own environmental scores. The Found Earth environmental scores will be implemented across a range of food products based in the UK.

If the demand for more sustainable produce continues to increase, then there is no doubt that the demand for initiatives such as eco-score will grow.

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Holly Keenan
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