Knowledgebase

Pick a category

Scoring of Sustainability


Sustainability and animal welfare are topics that are getting more and more important. At Kiezebrink we think these are important subjects, that is why we want to prodivde insight in our products. To score the products on sustainability and animal welfare several criteria were used to assess these aspects. The used criteria for sustainability are: carbon footprint, water footprint, ASC & MSC, fishing method, palm oil, soybeans, transport, and sustainability of the supplier. The higher a product scores the better. A description of all used criteria for sustainability can be found below. The criteria for scoring of animal welfare can be found here

Carbon footprint

The production of food has a large contribution to the total amount of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and meat and dairy products have been found to be especially high in the production of these harmful gasses. The three main impacts are the input of direct energy (fuel), animal feed and land for grazing. Different types of meat or crops can differ greatly in total GHG emissions, making it an important aspect to compare. Since not all gasses are equally harmful, all amounts are converted to how much CO2 would be just as harmful. This allows a more accurate comparison since the total amount of CO2 emission is calculated per produced kilogram of product (kg CO2-eq/kg).

2: The total co2 emission for this product is <5 kg per produced kg of meat.
1: The total co2 emission for this product is between 5 and 10 kg per produced kg of meat.
0: The total co2 emission for this product is > 10 kg per produced kg of meat.

Water footprint

Water is a resource that has been under increased pressure due to both consumption and pollution. About 27% of humanity’s water footprint is related to the production of animal products. The main reason of this high impact from the animal product industry is the high water requirements in the production of animal feed, but water is used in a lot of smaller processes in the industry as well. Because of the high impact animal products have on the world’s water use it is an important criteria to compare the product’s sustainability.

2: The total water requirements for this product are < 4.000 litres per produced kg of meat.
1: The total water requirements for this product are between 4.000 and 8.000 litres per produced kg of meat.
0: The total water requirements for this product are > 8.000 litres per produced kg of meat.

ASC & MSC

With a growing demand for fish the pressure on this limited resource has increased as well as 90% of the commercially caught species are (nearly) being overfished. Besides overfishing, wild fisheries can have a negative impact due to by-catch, discards, seabed disruption and pollution. A large part of the fish demand (40% as of 2014) is being supplied form cultivated fish production. However, even the cultivated fish production can be harmful as it directly affects the ecosystem in which the fish are bred. Harmful effects that could result from this practice include disruption of the ecosystem, eutrophication, chemical pollution and antibiotic use. Since fisheries can have such a negative effect, sustainable fishing is becoming more important as the demand rises. The MSC works with three core principles that all fisheries must adhere to in order to receive the label. These three principles are: sustainable fish stocks, minimising environmental impact and the use of effective management. The ASC aims to make the farmed fish industry more sustainable through multiple standards. These include the protection of local ecosystems and biodiversity, sustainable use of animal feed and reduced use of pesticides and chemicals. The ASC and MSC aim to increase the amount of sustainable fisheries by awarding their quality mark to fisheries that work in a sustainable way (MSC, 2013).

2: The fish has either an ASC or MSC quality mark.
1: The fish is wild-caught without a quality mark.
0: The fish is farmed without a quality mark.

Fishing method

The MSC label already shows if a fishery operates sustainably or not. However, especially when this label is absent, the fishing method can have a large impact on the environment. Firstly, certain methods destructs aquatic habitats. This happens when the method involves dragging something over the seabed in order to catch fish. This destructs ecosystems and decreases the water quality as sediment is stirred up. Gear that gets lost also poses a threat as it continues to catch fish which are not being harvested. This is commonly known as “ghost fishing”. Dependant on the method it also is not uncommon that untargeted species are caught. This bycatch can be detrimental to certain species. Because of the impact the used fishing method can have on the environment it is an important criteria when looking at sustainability.

2: The fish are caught through potting & trapping, seining, trolling or midwater trawling.
1: The fish are caught through dredging or longlining.
0: The fish are caught through gillnetting or bottom trawling.

Palm oil

Palm oil is a high yielding product with relatively low costs, making it a highly widespread and expanding crop. Oil palms grow best in tropical environments which results in deforestation of tropical forests since the space is needed for farmland. This deforestation, in turn, threatens a lot of species due to a loss of habitat. Besides deforestation the palm oil industry also causes high levels of pollution due to by-products. Other negative impacts of these plantations include the use of poison, elimination of wildlife corridors and an increased harvesting of animal species. Because of the negative effects the palm oil production can have it is important that this is done in a sustainable way. To show whether or not palm oil is sustainable, the RSPO (Roundtable on sustainable palm oil) quality mark is given to sustainable plantations.

2: No palm oil has been used or the used palm oil is RSPO labelled.
1: The used palm oil is from non-GM oil palms.
0: The used palm oil is from GM oil palms.

 Soybeans

Similar to palm oil the main negative effect of the soybean production is the deforestation due the space requirements but additional effects include the required infrastructure, soil erosion and use of pesticides which in turn cause pollution. Soybeans grow fast and have the highest nutritional value of any other major crop which is why it is the main product used in animal feeds.  Similar to palm oil, a quality mark has been established to show when soybeans are produced in a sustainable way. The used quality mark for soybeans is RTRS, Round table on responsible soy.

2: No soybeans have been used or the used soybeans are RTRS labelled.
1: The used soybeans are non-GM soybeans.
0: The used soybeans are GM soybeans.

Transport

One aspect that adds to the environmental impact of a product, and thus its sustainability, is the transport it requires. The longer this transport is, the higher the impact usually is. Using ingredients that are produced relatively close will lower the overall impact the final product has. Transport has shown to account for 11% of the total greenhouse gas emission on average.

2: The product originates from the Netherlands.
1: The product originates from Europe.
0: The product originates from a different continent.

Production method

The way crops are produced can make quite a difference in how sustainable it is. Methods can differ in countless ways, all having some influence on the final products. The part that is evaluated here is whether the crops are field grown or grown in a greenhouse. Fresh vegetables have an average carbon footprint of 0,47 kg co2 if they are field grown. When crops are produced in a passive greenhouse, this amount is raised to 1,02 kg co2. If the crops are grown in a heated greenhouse, the carbon footprint increases to 2,81 kg co2. Since this has a relatively high effect on the carbon footprint, it is an important aspect for comparison.

2: The crop is field grown.
1: The crop is grown in a passive greenhouse.
0: The crop is grown in a heated greenhouse.

Suppliers

How sustainable a product is, greatly depends on how the producer operates. Every step within the production process can be executed in different ways and thus different levels of sustainability. Measures taken to be more sustainable as a company also make the products more sustainable. Various measures can be taken to increase sustainability, such as water-use reduction, use of non-polluting pest control, use of green energy or reduced pollution through better waste handling. Even though the measure might not directly link to the product, it makes the company in general more sustainable, making it an important criterium when looking at product sustainability.

2: The supplying company values sustainability and shows how it contributes to this.
1: The supplying company values sustainability but lacks any elaboration on this aspect.
0: The supplying company has not listed sustainability as one of their values. 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2019 Kiezebrink Focus on Food | Realisatie door Census