EU Ecolabel could be introduced for food products

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 2nd April 2009

The search for sustainability has seen countless companies pledging to become sustainable in one way or another, but the flood of new labels signifying “green” or ethical is leading to confusion and green fatigue amongst some consumers. As a result, the European Union is contemplating introducing an Ecolabel for food products in the future.

The obvious difficulty is the inevitable argument as to what is truly green and sustainable. It is widely considered as fact that we are currently living unsustainably, but what will it take to make the world sustainable? And, in particular, to make food sustainable?

If a product made in Australia leaves no carbon footprint but is then shipped thousands of miles to Europe, is it still green? How much recycled packaging content is enough? And, do you compare one brand to an industry benchmark, or the benchmark of their specific sector?

Europe has begun tackling the issue with the introduction of the EU Ecolabel, which has been awarded to over 3,000 products such as detergents, paper and shoes.

A proposed updated regulation will set general requirements for the development of the Ecolabel criteria for any goods or services which are supplied for distribution, consumption or use on the Community market. The criteria themselves will not be determined by the regulation, but by subsequent decisions, for each product group.

A criteria for food and feed products has yet to be developed, however, with the European Commission to first conduct a study to see whether it is possible to set reliable environmental criteria for such products. They will also consider whether products certified organic would be the only goods eligible for receiving the Ecolabel award, to avoid confusion for consumers.