At Foundation Earth, we are determined not to let the pursuit of perfection be the enemy of doing what is possible. While an intensive research and development programme gets underway to produce an optimum and fully automated scoring system for 2022, we are launching a pilot programme from Autumn 2021 to test consumer response to front-of-pack environmental scores. This programme will allow the Foundation and its partners to assess how each method performs and how consumers respond to the labels, as it sets about developing an optimum scoring system and label for full roll-out in 2022.
Our UK pilot will use a method developed by Mondra, borne out of research within an academic paper by Poore & Nemecek (2018), which assesses foods’ environmental impact through four key criteria: water usage, water pollution, biodiversity and carbon. In the simplest terms, we gather information about the product, conduct a ‘Life Cycle Assessment’ to put numbers to the impacts and finally award the score you see on our front of pack labels.
The method uses data from the academic paper written by Poore & Nemechek. After spending four years bringing together thousands of Life Cycle Assessments from all over the world, this vital research found that two foods which look, taste and cost the same can have wildly different environmental impacts.
This method assesses a product’s environmental impact by assessing the farming, processing, packaging and transport. The impacts are weighted 49% to carbon and 17% each for water usage, water pollution and biodiversity loss.
Our European Pilot will use a method developed by an EU-funded EIT Food consortium of AZTI and Leauven University called Enviroscore. The system produces an easy to understand 5-scale label (A-E) to communicate the environmental impact of food & beverage products based on the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) European Methodology developed by DG Envi (Com 2013/179/EU).
PEF takes 16 categories into account: Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, Ionising Radiation (HH), Photochemical Ozone Formation (HH), Respiratory Inorganics, Non-cancer Human Health Effects, Cancer Human Health Effects, Acidification Terrestrial and Freshwater, Eutrophication Freshwater, Eutrophication Marine, Eutrophication Terrestrial, Ecotoxicity Freshwater, Land Use, Water Scarcity, Resource Use (Energy Carries), Resource Use (Mineral and Metals).