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Food Industry Unites for Standardised Carbon Reporting

A new initiative has been launched in the food industry, spearheaded by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and technology firm Mondra, to create a standardised approach for carbon reporting within the sector.

The coalition aims to develop a consistent industry standard and a technology-driven platform to efficiently monitor, enhance, and report the environmental impact of food and drink products.


Presently, the food industry employs various methods to calculate the carbon footprint of products, leading to confusion and inefficiencies, especially concerning Scope 3 emissions. These inconsistencies have placed a significant burden on suppliers and have led to growing scepticism regarding the accuracy of environmental data reporting.


Mondra's innovative AI technology is at the forefront of this initiative, enabling food brand owners and suppliers to conduct life cycle assessments (LCAs) on a vast array of products swiftly, identify key areas for impact reduction, and engage suppliers effectively in environmental improvement efforts.


A specific focus of the coalition, led by consultancy firm 3Keel, is the 'Farm data done better' workstream, which concentrates on integrating farm-stage carbon data into product footprint assessments.


Jason Barrett, CEO and founder of Mondra, expressed the company's goal to build the digital infrastructure necessary for future food systems. This infrastructure would allow brand owners and their suppliers to measure and enhance the environmental performance of their products collaboratively.


Retail giants including Tesco, M&S, Ocado Retail, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, and Co-op are participating or piloting the system.


The coalition, which includes Wrap, WWF, and Defra as part of its technical advisory group, aims to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets by 2030 but has faced challenges in reducing Scope 3 emissions.


Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the BRC, highlighted the coalition's potential to unify food retailers and suppliers under a single approach to carbon footprinting.


This unified approach could lead to more sustainable decisions in food production, packaging, transportation, and sales both in the UK and internationally.


In a related development, the IGD is developing a consistent reporting methodology for a new front-of-pack ecolabel. This label will provide an overall score for products based on a life cycle assessment covering various environmental impact categories. The methodology will evolve with new scientific evidence.


However, some NGOs have criticised this approach as overly simplistic, calling for a more nuanced method that accurately reflects the complexities of food production and its environmental impact.

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