Our assessments use a technique called ‘lifecycle assessment’, which looks at greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of production process, from farm to fork. This allows clients to understand the hotspots in their value chain and target action where they can have the greatest impact.
Our team draw on years of experience in lifecycle assessment (LCA) and our data is derived from peer-reviewed scientific studies, combined with our own expertise and research. Each data set is developed as a representative model of a real world value chain, allowing us to build robust assessments without having to collect huge amounts of data from each client’s supply chain. Lifecycle assessments are best used to aid decision making, so we work to ensure our tools reliably give the user an Carbon Forkprint which is accurate enough to ensure the user makes the right choice.
When we assess the Carbon Forkprint of a meal we use carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), an internationally recognised metric combining the warming impact of CO2 with methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases to provide a single comparable figure. This is particularly important in the food system, where methane and nitrous oxide are often more significant than CO2.
The Carbon Forkprint of a meal will change with time. Some of this comes from seasonality of the ingredients; soft fruits and other perishable ingredients are often airfreighted into the UK outside their natural growing season, while others are grown in heated greenhouses, in some cases leading to emissions ten times what you would see in season. There are also changes in the supply chain which are reflected in the data, as farmers improve the way they grow food or retailers improve their processes. There are also improvements in our data processes and the underlying science of carbon measurement which will allow us to help you make better choices.
In our assessments we look at emissions from:
The great scientific communicator Hans Rosling once said “never leave a number all by itself” and we couldn’t agree more!
Most people don’t really understand what a kilogram of CO2 looks like, so to ensure our users can always make the best decisions, we always ensure we provide context to our Carbon Forkprints, allowing them to compare the impact to other foods and choices in the rest of their lives.
Our E.Mission Coefficient uses a three point scale, similar to the traffic lights used in a lot of nutritional labelling, to help the consumer understand if their meal has a high, medium or low Carbon Forkprint. This works well with an instantly recognisable traffic light system, empowering diners to choose more low carbon meals and see those high carbon meals as a treat.
We also embed comparisons between the Carbon Forkprints we provide and other elements of people’s lives, particularly those they already associate with climate actions they could take but which can be more challenging to implement like the distance travelled by car, leaving a lightbulb on or surfing the web. This allows people to really understand food in a wider narrative of climate action that can often feel marginalising and see changes to their diet as a positive step they can take on the journey to net zero.