The Eco-score makes eco-friendly choices easier
We are all trying to lead more sustainable and conscious lives, step by step. Also when it comes to food. When you put sandwich fillings in your shopping trolley, you not only want excellent taste, you also want the smallest possible ecological footprint. Is it best to take young Gouda cheese or chicken breast? And do you prefer coffee or milk as a drink? The Eco-score makes it a lot easier to choose eco-friendly products. It allows you to make the right choices, in no time, for the environment, and therefore for all of us.
What is the Eco-score?
The Eco-Score is a rating system that shows how sustainable a product is. Label A is top-notch; E not so much. In this video, Vinz explains how the Eco-score works.
How do we calculate the Eco-score?
First we analyse the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle. This results in a score out of 100, to which we assign plus and/or minus points via the bonus-malus system, based on extra indicators such as origin and packaging. Finally, we translate this final score into an Eco-score from A to E.
Where can you find the Eco-score?
You can find the Eco-score of many private label food products of Boni, Boni Bio, Spar, Graindor and Colruyt Lowest Prices on the price label at Colruyt and Bio-Planet. In our other stores, you can easily discover the Eco-score in the Xtra app. Scan the bar code of your product by means of the 'Productinfo' option. The score can also be found in the MyColruyt and SmartWithFood app, on the Bio-Planet and Colruyt websites and on a lot of packaging.
Save points with Xtra
Want to give the environment a helping hand? You can make your contribution while shopping. By choosing a product with Eco-score A or B in the store, you save points in your Xtra app. When you have 100 points you can support an environmental project or follow a sustainable workshop at Colruyt Group Academy.
You can make a big difference for the environment with your weekly food choices. From choosing seasonal fruit and vegetables to cooking creatively with food leftovers. The following practical tips will help you reduce your ecological footprint in no time.
The Eco-score helps you to consume more sustainably. And the calculation also helps us, as a company. By mapping out the environmental impact of our private label products, we can see where we can do better and make improvements. Here are a few examples ...
Frequently asked questions
Yes, this is a possibility. For example by focusing on the possible bonus points, such as packaging, origin of ingredients and labels.
At Colruyt Group, we actively want to further reduce the environmental impact of our private label products. Together with our suppliers, we want to take the right actions that will have the greatest impact on the environment.
The method consists of various parameters such as the life cycle analysis and additional pluses and minuses.
- The life cycle analysis is retrieved from a database (Agribalyse) that was developed by order of the French government. The life cycle analyses in this database are performed using product category averages. We convert the value obtained from that database to a score out of 100, in line with the Eco-score methodology.
- The possible additional pluses and minuses allow us to make interesting nuances at product level. We can refine that system, taking into account the reality and specificity of the Belgian market. We are looking to adjust the algorithms and are consulting with the French collective in this respect.
We thus adapt the calculation method to the Belgian reality, but at the same time, the life cycle analyses database is also periodically completed and adapted:
- including progressing insight in calculating environmental impact
- adjusting values for the many data points needed
- deleting specific product categories and adding new ones
Such an adjustment was carried out in October 2022, which means that the Eco-score is being recalculated. Most products keep the same letter (Eco-score A to E), others are awarded another letter due to the change in the Agribalyse database. Most score better (e.g. from C to B) while a few are given a lower Eco-score (e.g. from B to C).
A life cycle analysis of a product takes into account the entire journey a product completes before it reaches you. At each stage – from raw materials and agriculture to sales and consumption – 16 different factors or 'impact categories' are evaluated. Climate change, water use, land use, particulate matter and acidification, etc.
5. Why does the Eco-score take into account additional criteria on top of the life cycle analysis? What are those criteria?
The value of the life cycle analysis from the French database Agribalyse is based on product category averages. It is in other words not yet product-specific. This means that the same product from different brands will obtain the same value from this database. Through the use of the bonus-malus system however, part of the Eco-score does become specific to each product. Moreover, a life cycle analysis gives limited consideration to the aspect biodiversity. This is also partly compensated by the bonus-malus points.
In all, there are five additional criteria:
- Does the product have certain sustainability labels or certificates?
- What is the origin of the ingredients in the product?
- What is the environmental policy of the producing country?
- What type of packaging does the product use? Is it recyclable?
- What impact does the product have on biodiversity?
Click here to read all about the criteria for the bonus-malus points and how these are assessed.
Transport plays a role in the life cycle analysis, but it is also considered for the bonus-malus system, where bonus points can be awarded for the origin of each ingredient in the food product. The product's origin and how it is packed are aspects that are obviously more visible to consumers than, say, the way in which it was processed or what pesticides were used. The added value of the Eco-score is that those factors are also given weight in the overall picture.
Agriculture, animal husbandry and processing usually have a greater impact. A product that comes from far away does not necessarily get a lower Eco-score than the local variant. That may seem strange because you intuitively assume that transport and packaging have the greatest impact on the environment. That is not always the case.
On the page How do we calculate the Eco-score, we have developed a case to demonstrate the impact of all the factors more clearly. By taking all factors into consideration in the Eco-score, we get a more complete picture of the total impact. Colruyt Group obviously also continues its efforts to make all factors more sustainable, including transport and packaging.
That is unlikely. The Eco-score and the Nutri-Score can easily be distinguished because of their different visual appearance. Due to the accessible design of both scores, the interpretation of both the nutritional values and the environmental impact of food products is quite straightforward. Effortlessly discover whether your products are healthy and ecologically sound, without having to decipher complicated texts and labels.
The Eco-score indicates the environmental impact of a food product. OEF stands for Organisation Environmental Footprint and is therefore about the ecological footprint of an organisation or company.
Colruyt Group has years of experience in calculating the ecological footprint of both its products and its organisation. For example, in cooperation with the European Commission, we actively monitored the development of the PEF standard (Product Environmental Footprint) and co-signed the OEF guidelines. We were one of the first to do this comprehensive exercise for our group. We calculated the environmental impact of our business activities in order to develop reduction strategies based on a baseline measurement.
Because the food sector has a significant impact on the environment. Before your food reaches your plate, it has to be produced, processed, packaged, transported, refrigerated, etc. This requires a lot of energy and raw materials. In total, about one third of all climate impact is caused by producing and eating food. It ranges from climate change and biodiversity loss to disruption of the nitrogen cycle. By choosing sustainable food, we increase the ecological carrying capacity of the earth and deplete the available raw materials less quickly.
Calculating and rolling out the Eco-score takes time. That is why we chose to determine them first for some 2,500 food products of our private labels Boni Selection (including Boni Bio), Spar, Graindor and Everyday. Meanwhile, you can now consult the Eco-score of national brand products on the websites of Colruyt, Bio-Planet and Collect&Go and in the Xtra-app. You can find the Nutri-Score on the packaging of Boni Selection products. We are gradually adding the scores of an increasing number of products.
No, not necessarily. Meat often has a greater CO2 impact than vegetable food because of the feed used in livestock farming, the agricultural area used, the greenhouse gases emitted through the digestive processes of ruminants, the use of pesticides, etc. But there are several criteria by which the Eco-score of meat products can be significantly improved. The type of meat for example is a crucial factor, and the production location also has a considerable impact on the Eco-score. Poultry for instance has a lower impact than beef. And locally produced meat will generally score better than meat from faraway regions. Local production indeed earns extra bonus points in the bonus-malus system. Although the life-cycle analysis remains the deciding factor of course.