Discussions on a harmonised Ecolabel at European level, the debate is moving forward!
Last week, on 16 February 2023, Pierre Slamich (co-founder) and Manon Corneille (Head of International Development) went to The Hague in the Netherlands to attend the conference “Towards a harmonised Ecolabel for food in the EU“.
Organised by Wageningen University & Research, the aim of the conference was to bring together the key stakeholders, working on environmental labelling in Northern European countries, to present their progress on the subject.
The richness of the conference came partly from the diversity of the speakers (research, institutions, retailers, non-profit, etc.):
- Mr. Koen Boone (Sustainable Value Chain Coordinator, WUR, NL)
- Ms. Roline Broekema (Senior Researcher Life Cycle Assessment, WUR, NL)
- Mr Vincent Colomb (Environmental Display Coordinator, ADEME, FR)
- Ms Cliona Howie (President, Foundation Earth, UK)
- Ms Anniek Mauser (Sustainability Manager, Unilever Benelux)
- Mr Malte Piontek (EU Public Affairs Manager, Lidl International, DE)
- Ms Veerle Poppe (Sustainability Strategist, Colruyt Group, BE)
We were eager to join this conference for several reasons:
- To be up to speed with the development of an European ecolabel, which Open Food Facts could integrate once adopted by the European Commission.
- To meet international food actors, and in particular retailers, to engage in a dialogue on transparency and to encourage them to share their products’ data (nutritional at first, and then environmental, ideally!)
Our key takeaways from the conference!
- More than 100 participants attended this conference; this topic is raising the interest of consumers, and therefore of more and more producers and distributors too (present in large numbers that day).
- The desire to see the creation of a harmonised Ecolabel at European level, which would be easy to use for the consumer, was shared by all the participants.
- Working groups on environmental labelling, notably in the Netherlands and Spain, are building a database equivalent to Agribalyse in France, the reference database on the environmental impact of products, based on the Life Cycle Assessment methodology. For the success of a harmonised environmental display, Vincent Colomb (The French Agency for Ecological Transition) calls on all EU countries to build such a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) database for food products.
- The PEF (Product Environmental Footprint) is a method based on LCA to quantify the environmental impacts of products (goods or services). The PEF was born following a census in 2003 of over 230 labels in Europe. This measure therefore responds to a need for standardisation and reliability of environmental data.
- The PEF will be the backbone for the calculation of the European ecolabel, even though some limitations are still being discussed, notably on the complexity of the data to be collected.
- Retailers shared some feedback on the experiments carried out in shops. Both Colruyt, Unilever and Lidl are encouraging producers and retailers to commit to more transparency and to start collecting environmental data as soon as possible.
The development of a harmonised environmental indicator will be the result of a very thorough reflection, a long process of research, experimentation and consultation with the various stakeholders.
Timeline of the French ecolabel, developed by ADEME
- 2023, March: Release of the proposed ecolabel formula
- 2023, 3rd quarter: Presentation of the final method, after the integration of feedbacks
- 2024: Beginning of the Ecolabel implementation with professionals
Until March the 10th, all French speakers are invited to share their opinion on the subject of ecolabel via the ADEME consultation.
Thanks for taking the time to read. See you soon for more news 👋👋