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Green lights for eco traffic lights

27 August, 2021

Lidl GB is introducing an eco-traffic light labelling system that will provide customers with information about the carbon and biodiversity impact of their products.

The labelling will be trialed on 50 products in 105 stores across Scotland and will use the Eco Score system. Along with colour coding, products are given a letter grade and score out of 100 based on a life-cycle assessment. Products can also gain points if they have already received third-party certifications such as Rainforest Alliance.

Introducing the system is a positive step for education and awareness and a crucial step in challenging supply chains. We particularly like the inclusion of biodiversity as a metric, as this is often treated as the poor cousin of carbon when thinking about environmental impacts.

Consumers understand traffic lights in the context of the nutritional profile of food products, so building on a system they already understand will not only help more informed choices, but could help build understanding of the link between individual health and the health of the planet.

M&S and Sainsbury’s are set to introduce a similar system later this year; however, lower-priced Lidl taking the lead demonstrates that offering customers the opportunity to make more sustainable choices doesn’t need to be a premium service.

More companies getting on board has led to the proliferation of labelling systems which has the potential to create accountability issues as well as greater confusion and fatigue for consumers.  However, we think it’s encouraging that this practice is starting to take hold across the sector. While it might not yet be possible to properly judge how Lidl’s teabags compare to M&S’ in terms of impact, it’s great to see supermarkets starting to embrace eco labelling as standard.

By Jessie Smith

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