EU improves food & drink environmental footprint assessment
On January 20 2014 the European Food SCP Round Table launched the ENVIFOOD Protocol version 1.0., a major step forward in helping consumers make informed product choices. The ENVIFOOD Protocol is the first methodology based on both global (ISO) and EU (Product Environmental Footprint - PEF) approaches to provide specific guidance for conducting environmental footprint assessments in the food, feed and drink sector. A key principal of the ENVIFOOD Protocol is to promote informed product choice through the communication of scientifically reliable, consistent, and understandable environmental product information.
The ENVIFOOD Protocol is the result of a four-year collaboration between the European Commission and more than 20 European organisations from the food sector. Its publication followed a series of 19 pilots and a public consultation in 2013. The European Food SCP Round Table now seeks to promote the uptake of the Protocol by providing technical support during the EU food, feed and drink pilot tests.
According to EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, European Consumers are often confused by the vast variety of food labels and consequently lose confidence in their credibility. Increasing transparency for consumers would incentivise producers to make their products greener. In this way, the ENVIFOOD Protocol and the ongoing work within the FOOD SCP Round Table has the potential to contribute to more sustainable production and consumption patterns.
New EU procurement directives approved by the European Parliament
On Wednesday 15 January the European Parliament (EP) approved the new EU Public Procurement Directives. The new legislation will replace the current directives and will be binding in all EU Member States once they have been transposed into national law. States have up to two years time for the transposition. Innovation is explicitly encouraged through the new procurement rules, exhibited through the inclusion of ‘innovation partnerships’.
This new procedure acts as a mechanism to encourage dialogue with bidders and foster innovation procurement. Additional goals of the directives include ensuring public authorities purchase best value for money (rather than simply lowest cost) and facilitating bids from SMEs. Another salient aspect of the new directives is the addition of the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ (MEAT) as the standard award criterion. The introduction of the MEAT criterion should serve to further support the use of environmental and social criteria in public tenders.
"Public procurement will no longer be a question of simply accepting the lowest price. Smart customers will work with smart suppliers to provide better solutions, better tailored to meeting customer needs in more innovative ways," said British MEP and Rapporteur Malcolm Harbour, Chairman of the EP’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. Further analysis and discussion of the new procurement directives will take place on the Procurement Forum.
A new German study explores eco-innovations which prevent the production of waste, and considers drivers and barriers to the uptake of material efficiency measures in businesses, green procurement and product leasing schemes. Titled ‘waste prevention through eco-innovation in production and consumption’, the researchers studied three measures for waste prevention and identified key success factors and barriers respectively.
The first waste prevention measure looked at was material efficiency in companies. Research suggests that automotive manufacturers in Germany could save seven percent of their costs for production and material through eco-innovation. Hence, companies are advised to develop a waste-cost-control strategy and to identify and implement green, innovative measures.
The second measure considered was green procurement. Eco-conscious procurement decisions incentivise manufacturers to produce goods in an eco-friendly way, thereby minimising waste generation. The promotion of product service systems was the third measure considered. This suggests that consumers should rethink the concept of owning a product, and move to a culture of consumption where consumers rent, lease and share products (e.g. car sharing).
First RESFOOD newsletter focuses on food sector innovations
December 2013 saw the Resource Efficient and Safe Food Production and Processing (RESFOOD) project publish its first newsletter on innovations within the food sector. The three-year collaborative project aims to research and transfer innovative technologies to improve the food industry’s resource efficiency and food safety. Funded under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission, it was launched in November 2012.
The newsletter gives a brief overview of the RESFOOD project and its main research areas, such as technologies that help to recover energy and nutrients, ways to re-use and recycle water used in food production and processing and regaining valuable bio-based compounds from organic waste. Based on initial lab results, the partners are currently preparing the pilot test phase for the technologies.
The newsletter also contains several interviews on innovations in the fields of horticulture, food processing, biomass, disinfection and detection. Moreover, it presents eight other currently running projects related to innovation in the food sector and provides a calendar with upcoming events in the field.