Individual consumption choices and consumer habits can mitigate environmental impacts, complementing company innovation and sourcing activities designed to do the same.
Environmental labelling (eco-labelling) is not new; various schemes have been proposed over the last 40 years, which have often been tailored to specific economic sectors. These have been accompanied by the emergence of International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards to classify different types of eco-labels and introduce methodological and certification procedures. They have been focused on informing business to business transactions or management practices employed in product supply chains (e.g. Rainforest Alliance).
Schemes based on have been the focus of recent eco-labelling efforts, encouraged by the policy environment in some regions (e.g. the ). They intend to quantify and aggregate multiple environmental impacts into a single score (rating labels), indicating product environmental performance. The calculation of ratings involves a number of sequential stages (Fig 1), from the initial LCA modelling to displaying the label on a product or through a QR code.
Figure 1: The four stages followed to establish LCA-based environmental rating labels
The need for harmonisation of methodologies
There is a need to harmonise methodological choices throughout this process (Fig 1) and at a sector-level to ensure labels are fit for purpose, i.e., they can effectively guide consumers towards more sustainable consumption choices.
Developing scientifically robust and easy to understand eco-labels is challenging; product differentiation is a key requirement, but effective differentiation depends on a range of data and methodological factors. We are working to address some of the methodological challenges.
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Tools & Approaches
Tools and approaches that we use in Environmental Sustainability ScienceLearn more about Tools & Approaches