Ecoswitch rates 60,000 food products based on their greenhouse emissions

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

O-Dan

Australian consumers who want to make more sustainable shopping choices now have a new digital tool – EcoSwitch has rated 60,000 food products based on their greenhouse emissions.

The data-technology platform estimates the greenhouse gas impact of individually packaged foods and converts the scores in a Planetary Health Rating scheme.

The free app allows users to scan a product’s barcode to check its “planetary health rating” and consider switching to products with better ratings.

According to the app’s analysis, swapping higher-emission products for lower-emission alternatives could reduce total emissions from household groceries by 26 per cent.

Furthermore, consistently choosing lower-emission options could lead to a 71 per cent reduction in emissions from household groceries.

In response to the proliferation of misleading sustainability claims on product packaging, EcoSwitch also devised its own labelling system.

By conducting a total life-cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions for more than 60,000 packaged food products, the app could assign each product a “planetary health rating” on a 10-point scale.

Take soup, for example. One type of pumpkin soup available in Australia receives a planetary health rating of five stars, while a chicken and sweetcorn soup receives just 1.5. In the snack bar category, a particular fruit and oat muesli bar receives four stars, while a chocolate and oat bar receives one.

Ecoswitch says such large variation within product categories shows how much difference consumers can make through their choices.

The analysis of the EcoSwitch database, combined with sales data, revealed that the food and drink brought into Australian homes annually represents total emissions of about 31.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

The main contributors to these emissions are meat and meat products, dairy products, and non-alcoholic drinks.

Aside from consumers, governments can also use the information to monitor the food sector, identify problematic products and product categories, and offer incentives – or penalise companies accordingly.

By providing information on the emissions associated with different food products, EcoSwitch aims to empower consumers to make choices that can help reduce the food system’s contribution to global warming.

EcoSwitch is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.

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