Last reviewed 13 October 2021

The Environment Agency (EA) has launched a new project to measure the environmental performance of the food and drink sector to tackle greenwashing practices.

As consumer demand for greener products continues to grow, there is growing concern that some businesses are trying to persuade consumers their brands are the least damaging to the environment.

The project is aiming to make it simpler for businesses and for the public to understand the environmental performance of companies in key areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and resource efficiency.

Launching the project, Business Minister Lord Callanan said: “This project aiming to standardise environmental metrics for the food and drink sector could pave the way for exciting developments in the sector, bringing benefits to British businesses and consumers alike.”

The EA is leading the project along with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Waste and Resources Action Programme and others.

Project lead Becca Tremain, of the EA, said mitigating climate change and communicating environmental performance is a “big challenge” for food businesses.

“The initiative will help manufacturers to more effectively communicate their environmental performance to the public, minimising the opportunity for green washing and help incentivise more companies toward greener manufacturing processes and business operations helping to tackle climate change,” she added.

The EA partnership will be working with IEMA, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, trade associations and private sector organisations including Sainsbury’s, Nestle, Cranswick, 2 Sisters and Vitacress to understand and ensure the feasibility of the metrics.

Speaking to media platform ‘Food Navigator’, Emma Piercy, Head of Climate Change & Energy Policy at the Food & Drinks Federation (FDA), said they broadly supports the concept of environmental performance metrics to avoid confusion over different label claims. “The trouble is that a lot of other people are thinking exactly the same thing, and are now developing their own metrics and methodologies,” she said.

The project has been made possible by a £195,000 grant from the £3.7 million Regulators’ Pioneer Fund launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).