Skip to content


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).

LCA-based labels

Schemes based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)have been the focus of recent eco-labelling efforts, encouraged by the policy environment in some regions (e.g. the European Green Deal (Opens in a pop-up window )). 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.

For instance, we have published a framework (Opens in a pop-up window )(Courtat et al., 2023) containing a set of common guidelines that can be used to develop new environmental rating labelling schemes or evaluate existing ones.


Publications, presentations, posters, videos and learning materials for Environmental Sustainability Science

Learn more about Resources
Resources Image

Tools & Approaches

Tools and approaches that we use in Environmental Sustainability Science

Learn more about Tools & Approaches
Tools & Approaches Image Updated
Back to top