NGO follows nutrition lead for business focused eco-labelling

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

One environmental NGO says it is taking inspiration from nutrition labels as part of attempts to better inform global business and, eventually, the consumer about the environmental performance of food products.

The Institute for Environmental Research and Education (IERE) says that the launch of its certified Earth Sure label is targeted not at playing up the potential environmental superiority of certain foods, but scientifically substantiating various production factors.

Business push

Rita Schenck, a spokesperson for IERE, told that the extension of its Earth Sure Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) to packaged foods will initially be targeted on a business-to-business level.

Schenck claims that consumers were generally not yet aware of the significance of certain environmental production values, making the Earth Sure label currently more relevant to individual businesses.

“In effect, this is a nutrition label for the life cycle environmental performance, giving carbon footprints, land and water use, as well as several other environmental impacts as required by international standards for this kind of eco label,”​ she states. “Our logo can serve as a kind of ‘trust seal’, but it will take quite some time to get the consumers to recognize what it means.”

Although the EPD for packaged foods is currently only carried on the packaging of US-based processor Truitt Brothers’ beef chilli with beans product, the company said it may be open to a global expansion of the system. IERE says that it was already consulting other manufacturers about adopting the label, as well as working with other environmental groups.

In focusing on packaged food, the NGO says its key aims for the eco label extension, launched just last month, was mainly to provide factual information to buyers on the environmental performance of a product.

IERE suggests the label could specifically help processors to identify at what parts of their individual supply chains they are having the greatest environmental impact, the assessment also focuses on farm outputs.

In accepting that there have been a growing number of eco label schemes appearing on the market in the current climate, the NGO suggested that fact-based certification was becoming increasingly important to protect manufacturers’ green ambitions.

“What we would like to have people recognise is that we are seeing the end of feel-good environmentalism,”​ states Schenck.“We must use the best available science and link the market to environmental performance - and this is the basis of life cycle assessment.”

Related topics Markets Regulation

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