24 May 2023

Launch of Foundation Earth’s LCA Methodology for Environmental Footprint labelling

Harmonized PEF-friendly calculation method for fair comparisons

Over the last year Blonk worked with Foundation Earth and Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik (DIL) to develop a harmonised methodology to assess the environmental impact of food and drink products. On 15 March 2023 Foundation Earth officially launched the new methodology and made it available open source to increase transparency and stimulate application worldwide. The methodology is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach and makes it possible to make a fair comparison between the environmental impact of food products. 

Foundation Earth is an independent, non-profit organization issuing front-of-pack environmental scores on food products. They aim to help businesses to build a more resilient and environmentally sustainable food system while giving consumers the tools they need to make sustainable buying choices. Blonk supported Foundation Earth to develop an LCA methodology, aligned with the EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) framework, that measures the environmental impact of food products, which can be used to provide front-of-pack eco-scores for consumers. The methodology is now available and proposes a robust and data-driven environmental scoring system which allows for the comparison between different food chains producing the same type of food.

Developing a harmonised LCA methodology for food ecolabelling

When setting up an LCA model a lot of choices must be made: environmental indicators prioritisation, use of primary and background data, approach for data gaps, data quality, modelling of packaging materials with recycled content, and returnable packaging – to name a few. Although the PEF framework already gives some guidance on several LCA modelling issues, category rules (PEFCR) have not been developed for all products categories. On top of that, the methodology used for the different PEFCRs can sometimes be conflicting and leads to an unfair comparison of products. Various pilots with food industry partners helped to test different ecolabelling methods. Besides that, Foundation Earth brought together a task force to help build that harmonised LCA method for front-of-pack environmental scores on food products, discussing different LCA challenges and opportunities to find a clear pathway forward that will accurately assess the eco impact of our food. Blonk prepared the task-force workshops and made proposals for the methodological approaches. Members of the task force include LCA experts from Blonk and DIL, as well as food industry players.

The methodology includes 16 environmental impact categories:

  • Climate change
  • Ozone depletion
  • Human toxicity (cancer)
  • Human toxicity (noncancer)
  • Particulate matter
  • Ionising radiation
  • Photochemical ozone formation
  • Acidification
  • Eutrophication (terrestrial)
  • Eutrophication (freshwater)
  • Ecotoxicity (freshwater)
  • Eutrophication (marine)
  • Land use
  • Water use
  • Resource use (minerals, metals)
  • Resource use (fossils)


The methodology:

Harmonised PEF-friendly LCA methodology

Proposes a harmonised PEF-friendly LCA methodology to calculate the environmental footprint of food products.

Builds on existing developments

Builds on existing developments, PEFCRs, PEF Guidance, Food Drink Europe guidance

Comparable results

Designed to allow for the comparison of grades between different food categories and within the same category

Guidance on primary data use

Provides guidance on primary data sources required to run the LCA based on the type of food producer.

Guidance on secondary data use

Provides guidance on preferred secondary data sources.

Data quality assessment approach

Proposes a simplified approach to the PEF data quality assessment to allow for widespread use

Interested in Environmental Standards Development?

Blonk supports industries and sectors to develop harmonized environmental calculation rules, based on the latest available international methodologies.

More information 

Get in touch

Janjoris van Diepen
Team Manager

If you have questions about this project or are interested to develop a customized LCA method or environmental calculation tool for your sector? Please get in touch with Janjoris.