European eco label scheme set to launch in 2022

29 Jul 2021

International industry titans from the food and beverage industry have come together with supermarkets and environmental scientists to form a non-profit that will launch front-of-pack eco-scores across Europe this September.

The initial rollout will be a pilot program to test the efficacy of the chosen labeling scheme, and it will include products from U.K. retailer M&S as well as an assortment of brands, including Meatless Farm, Naked, Mash Direct and Costa Coffee. The full rollout for this ecologically-friendly labeling scheme is slated for 2022.

European eco label scheme set to launch in 2022
Courtesy of Foundation Earth

While this eco-friendly front-of-pack label will not indicate the health of a product for the human body, it will indicate a product's health for the environment. With this new label, four different indicators of sustainability are assessed: carbon emissions, water use, water pollution and impact on biodiversity. The carbon footprint of a product will contribute to 49% of the overall grade while the remaining three categories will be weighted at 17% apiece. Ratings will be expressed on an A to G scale with a color; green will indicate the highest grade.

Within the grading framework, a product's environmental impact due to farming, processing, packaging and transport will also be considered.

During the pilot program, Foundation Earth, a key partner in this consortium, will be evaluating the traffic light labeling system developed by Mondra. In tandem with this market test, the Mondra system will be a part of Nestlé’s, R&D efforts where it will be combined with another leading eco-friendly measuring system created by EU-funded EIT Food. By August of 2022, the partnership hopes to extract the most advantageous aspects of both systems to develop an optimal system that is easily decipherable by shoppers across the U.K. and the EU.

This system is not unlike other front-of-pack labeling systems that are currently being considered across the EU. For many, this traffic light labeling system will look familiar. At the same time that consumers are clamoring for more transparency surrounding the sustainability of products, they are also interested in gaining a more intimate knowledge about the health of packaged products. As a result, the government and a host of organizations are working to respond to consumer questions about the health of packaged foods by offering an easily digestible, color-coded rating system that indicates health.

In addition to supporting testing of this labeling scheme, three U.K. supermarket chains, protein producer Tyson Foods and Spanish supermarket Eroski sit on Foundation Earth’s industry advisory group to steer the efforts of this consortium to develop a universal eco-labeling system that is based on science and widely accepted by consumers, governments, retailers and manufacturers.

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