Living a more sustainable life is a valiant and worthwhile goal, however, following through with it is a daily challenge. As consumers, the information we need to make the most sustainable choice is often not readily available, and reading through the labels and small print is exhausting and takes a lot of time.
Luckily, a new traffic light labeling system that determines the eco-rating of food products is set to be trialed in the UK starting in September, and if all goes well, should be rolling out across Europe in the coming year.
The system was conceived by scientists at the University of Oxford and will be launched publicly by a new European scientific non-profit called Foundation Earth. The organization aims to help people gain a better understanding of food sustainability, a field that can be full of confusing and at times contradictory information.
The products are graded on their carbon emissions, biodiversity impact, and water usage. The labels will look similar to the ones that display salt, sugar, fat, and calorie content on food items, and will be given a color rating (red, amber, or green) as well as a letter grade from A to G.
For now, the system will be trialed in the UK by brands such as M&S, Costa Coffee, and Abel & Cole. Products that garner good and bad ratings will be included so that Foundation Earth can determine whether the labels effectively influence people’s shopping habits. The full European rollout is expected to be implemented in 2022.
The hope is that the labels will encourage food suppliers to offer more eco-friendly products and that the transparency will help consumers make better and healthier choices for themselves and for the environment.