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FiBL project

Title EU Ecolabel for food and feed products ? Feasibility study
Official Acronym Ecolabelling
FiBL project number 35059
Detailed Description

Background

The environmental impacts of the production and processing of food, feed and drinks make up between 20% and 30% of the total environmental impacts of consumable goods in the EU. In the case of eutrophication (the accumulation of nutrients in water causing a reduction in oxygen availability) they account for as much as 58% of the total impacts.
The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme that forms part of overall EU policy to encourage more sustainable consumption and production. To date, the EU Ecolabel scheme has developed criteria for products in the non-food sector. The Regulation that governs the scheme (66/2010) aims to extend the EU Ecolabel into new product categories including food. However, the Regulation stipulates that before extending to the food sector, a feasibility study should be undertaken.

Objectives
This feasibility study has three objectives:
1. To assess the feasibility of establishing reliable EU Ecolabel criteria covering the environmental performance of food, feed and drinks products throughout their whole lifecycle.
2. To assess the impact and the added value of establishing these EU Ecolabel criteria and implementing the scheme in the various sectors, and the impact this could have on organically certified products (including the risk of consumer confusion).
3. To evaluate the option of limiting the scope of the EU Ecolabel for food, feed and drinks products to organically certified products only.
The study has been undertaken by a consortium of three organisations led by Oakdene Hollins together with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the University of Göttingen.
Our approach
The approach undertaken to fulfil these objectives consisted of:
1. A literature review of the significant environmental impacts of food, feed and drink products by category and where in their lifecycle the main impacts occur.
2. A literature review to establish the labelling landscape and to identify any environmental impacts that are not being adequately covered either in terms of criteria, lifecycle stage, product groups or in terms of market penetration.
3. A survey of consumers in four member states (Czech Republic, Spain, the UK and Germany) to assess their perceptions and reactions to an EU Ecolabel on food and drinks products and the extent of any potential confusion with existing organic labels.
4. A survey of stakeholders followed by a workshop that included retailers, farming organisations, food, feed and drinks producers and processors, policy makers, consumer and environmental NGOs to assess their perceptions and reactions to an EU Ecolabel on food and drinks products and the degree of potential confusion with existing organic labels and potential conflicts with legally protected terms by the EC Regulation 834/2007 for organic production.

We also developed a number of scenarios to further explore these issues with the stakeholder community. These scenarios were:

  • no EU Ecolabel at all for food, feed and drinks products
  • the use of EU Ecolabel for organic products only
  • an EU Ecolabel which included both organic and non-organic products
  • limiting the EU Ecolabel to products not covered by organic labels
  • an EU Ecolabel which focussed on environmental hotspots not covered by the organic label, such as the eating-out sector or animal feeds.
Project status completed
Start of project 01.01.2010
End of project 31.12.2012
Financing/ Donor

EU

FiBL project leader/ contact
Further Information

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme that forms part of overall EU policy to encourage more sustainable consumption and production. To date, the EU Ecolabel scheme has developed criteria for products in the non-food sector. The Regulation that governs the scheme (66/2010) aims to extend the EU Ecolabel into new product categories including food. However, the Regulation stipulates that before extending to the food sector, a feasibility study should be undertaken.
This feasibility study shall assess the feasibility of establishing reliable EU Ecolabel criteria covering the environmental performance of food, feed and drinks products throughout their whole lifecycle. Besides, the impact and the added value of establishing these EU Ecolabel criteria and implementing the scheme in the various sectors, and the impact this could have on organically certified products (including the risk of consumer confusion) will be investigated. Finally, we will evaluate the option of limiting the scope of the EU Ecolabel for food, feed and drinks products to organically certified products only.
We developed a number of scenarios to further explore these issues with the stakeholder community.

Research area
Themes
Date modified 12.06.2019
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