Sustainability Assessment Tools for Food Products : Similarities, Deviations, and Future Enhancements

Detta är en Master-uppsats från KTH/Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik

Sammanfattning: The growing human population puts pressure on our ecosystems and natural resources. One of the major causes of household’s environmental impact has been found to be the consumption of food, which is why actions need to be taken to decrease it. One such action has been taken by the Swedish grocery store Coop, who by sharing Sustainability Declarations for food products provides information on the sustainability impacts caused by their products. Coop has identified a need to further develop their framework and to ensure its legitimacy, something that this master’s thesis aims to contribute too.  Seven sustainability assessment tools of food used within Europe were compared: Beelong Eco-Score, Eco Impact, Eco-Score, Impact Score Shopping, Köttguiden, Vegoguiden and the Sustainability Declarations, for which similarities and differences were identified. Some of the main similarities that were identified were that all tools applied a life cycle perspective, that they mainly focused on consumers and that they aimed to ease the decision of what food to purchase by providing information on sustainability impact. Some of the main differences were the range of scores, type of scores, which functional units were applied and from where the data were collected. Differences were also found in transparency, where some tools provided both scores and detailed descriptions of their framework, whilst others provided a few scores with a brief description of their framework. Whether social sustainability indicators were included or not also differed, and only the Sustainability Declarations were found to include it to a large extent, whilst Impact Score Shopping included it to some extent.  To deepen the apprehension of the tools' methodologies and how these impacted the assessments, scores for six products: Almonds, Chocolate, Flour, Milk, Pork and Rice were also compared. The assessments of flour were similar across all tools, whilst the assessment of almonds differed the most. The Beelong Eco-Score generally assessed products lower than the others, whilst the Sustainability Declarations assessed the products higher. The differences were deemed to both be a result of different methodological approaches, but also to be a result of varying food regulations in the country of origin of the food products.  To further develop the Sustainability Declarations, Coop could consider integrating Agribalyse in their assessments, and to widen their indicators to include seasonality and packaging to a larger extent. It could also be advantageous to provide their customers with alternatives and ideas of more sustainable products. The method used for the Sustainability Declarations seems to be in line with many of the choices and assumptions made for the methodologies within the other tools, and to be in line with the current state of knowledge in the scientific field. 

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