The AZTI technology centre and the University of Leuven have developed ENVIROSCORE, an environmental labelling system that makes it easy to recognise the degree of environmental sustainability of food and beverages at the point of sale
The label is based on the Environmental Product Footprint methodology, approved by the European Commission, and has undergone a rigorous validation process before being released
ENVIROSCORE allows companies to measure and communicate the environmental impact of their products in a simple way and makes it easier for consumers to choose more sustainable products
The food system is at the centre of attention, being both a cause and a victim of the environmental impact generated in Europe. Therefore, in order to reduce environmental degradation and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is essential to promote more sustainable production and more responsible consumption of food and beverages.
To respond to this important challenge, the AZTI technology centre and the University of Leuven (Belgium) have developed ENVIROSCORE®, an environmental labelling system that measures the impact of products based on the internationally accepted and standardised European Environmental Product Footprint methodology.
ENVIROSCORE is useful for both the agri-food industry and consumers. For the former, it allows them to measure and communicate the environmental impact of their products in a simple way, integrating 16 environmental impact categories into one and promoting product eco-design throughout the supply chain. For the latter, it provides easy-to-understand information that allows them to compare between products and between food and drink product categories, motivating them towards more sustainable consumption patterns.
An algorithm that combines 16 environmental impacts
“ENVIROSCORE is an algorithm that aggregates into a single final score the environmental impacts generated throughout all stages of production and consumption of a kilogram of product. Specifically, 16 environmental impacts are combined, including, among others, the potential for climate change, ozone layer depletion, water pollution, depletion of fossil resources and toxicity,” explains Saioa Ramos, one of the creators of the methodology and a researcher in AZTI’s Efficient and Sustainable Processes area.
Based on this analysis, it converts the aggregate score into a simple, visual and intuitive communication system with 5 scales ( A| B | C | D | E ). This rating integrates all aspects related to how that product is produced, processed, packaged, distributed, consumed and waste managed.
“After validation with 150 food products, it has been concluded that the system is capable both of capturing the variability of impact between different food and beverage products and of discriminating, within the same typology of products, those products with “worse” production techniques, excessive packaging or long transport distances,” says the AZTI expert.
Institutional and business support
The ENVIROSCORE system is an environmental labelling system developed by a group of independent scientists in response to the growing concern of companies and consumers to produce and consume food in a more sustainable and responsible way. This initiative has the support of many companies, as well as the Basque Government and the European Union itself through the European Food Innovation Initiative EIT Food, which works to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trustworthy.