UK – In a bid to address concerns surrounding greenwashing and promote greater transparency in the food and drink industry, the UK government is seeking to establish a “level of standardization” for existing eco-labels on products.

A report compiled by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) highlights the need for commonality among the various methodologies used in voluntary eco-labeling schemes.

The aim is to mitigate the risk of false or misleading environmental claims and alleviate consumer confusion.

While there are currently no plans to introduce mandatory eco-labeling or endorse specific schemes, the government is focused on bringing consistency to the metrics used to support voluntary eco-labels. This initiative is part of the UK government’s 2022 food strategy and aligns with the Food Data Transparency Partnership (FDTP) goals.

The preferred approach advocated by the FDTP is a “lifecycle assessment (LCA)” method, which quantifies the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire lifecycle. However, not all existing eco-labels employ this approach, with some focusing on specific metrics such as greenhouse gas emissions or biodiversity.

Recognizing the importance of existing eco-labeling schemes in promoting higher standards at the farm level, the government emphasizes the potential value of LCA-based labels in providing a comprehensive overview of a product’s environmental impact.

Since 2021, 21 voluntary food and drink eco-labeling schemes have been identified in the UK, each employing different environmental metrics. The FDTP aims to establish a consistent product-level accounting standard to enable comparability and clarity for consumers.

The partnership, which includes Defra, the Department for Health and Social Security (DHSC), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), industry representatives, and academia, underscores the importance of ensuring that eco-labels provide a fair and accurate representation of a product’s environmental impact.

The government plans to develop the eco-labeling methodology further to cover aspects such as label design and application.

By addressing fundamental issues related to quantifying product-level environmental impacts and ensuring data quality and availability, the UK aims to enhance consumer trust and support the growth of genuinely sustainable products in the market.

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