The French Law on Climate and the Law on the Fight against Waste and the Circular Economy provides for environmental labeling which should inform consumers about the ecological footprint of products and services. The objective of this new "eco-score label" which will appear on product packaging is to "inform consumers so that they can choose products with the least impact on the environment" specifies the government.
In 2020, the Ministry of Ecology and the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe) launched a call for projects aimed at defining this new environmental display system. Among the many proposals (20 in total), the Institute of Organic Agriculture and Food (ITAB) and its partners (SAYARI and VGF) have just presented the "Planet-score", a visual tool for the image of the "Nutri-Score" which scores on a scale from A to E the environmental impacts of food products according to 4 criteria: impacts on biodiversity, climate, human health and animal welfare.
Both laws mention that the environmental labeling has to be based on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), a method that takes into account the different stages of a product's life and their effects on the environment. Planet score includes additional indicators to LCA, and consider negative impacts related to the use of pesticides on human health or damage to biodiversity. According to the creators of this new labelling, without taking these issues into account, the use of LCA alone would lead to favoring products from intensive production and breeding.
A study was carried out by this collective among 1000 people (representative of the French population aged over 18 between June 10 and 15, 2021) on the implementation of this new display on food products. The results are very positive:
- 81% of consumers would be influenced by the Planet-score
- 84% would take into account the Pesticides indicator
- 83% would be influenced by the Animal Welfare indicator
- 80% would be interested in the Biodiversity indicator
- 77% would be interested in the Climate indicator
For its part, Ademe is due shortly to submit a report evaluating the various display methods proposed as part of its experiment in Parliament.
And what about the European level?
If things are moving forward at the French level, what about the European level? Already in 2013, the European Commission noted the importance of "having reliable and accurate measurements and information on the environmental performance of products" - but it also warned of the "current proliferation of methods and initiatives" which would create "confusion and a certain mistrust of information relating to environmental performance". Reason why common methods should be used to measure and report the environmental performance of products, the European Commision recommended.
A desire that is also reflected in a new European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), registered on June 30: this calls for the creation of a single European eco-score to precisely avoid the confusion generated by the proliferation of private initiatives. The ICE has begun collecting signatures from July 23.