HarmoniSed ENvironmental Sustainability in the European food and drink chain
The sustainability information collected along the production cycle of any food stuff and reflected into the EID (Environmental Identification Document) will be accessible by the EID-Communication Platform, contributing to make the environmental sustainability part of the usual purchasing behaviour of consumers and provide a competitive advantage to those products which choose to use the EID.
Main results of SENSE will be: (i)Standard key environmental performance indicators (KEPI); (ii)Harmonised methodology for environmental impact assessment; (iii)SENSE-tool for environmental data collection; (iv)EID and EID-Communication Platform; (v)Certification Scheme Concept (CSC) for sustainability; (vi)Roadmap for policy and governance implementation.
SENSE consortium is formed by a multidisciplinary team involving 23 partners from 13 countries made up by a combination of complementary profiles: research organisations, food and drink SMEs, environmental and LCA experts, SMEs for dissemination and communication and European food Associations.
FUNDACION AZTI - AZTI FUNDAZIOA
Txatxarramendi Ugartea Z/G
€ 551 471
Begoña Pérez Villarreal (Ms.)
Sort by EU Contribution
€ 302 368
CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
€ 150 736
DANMARKS TEKNISKE UNIVERSITET
€ 183 765
SIK - INSTITUTET FOER LIVSMEDEL OCH BIOTEKNIK AB
€ 260 580
€ 254 301,20
SGF SERVICE PLUS GMBH
€ 53 200
EUROPEAN AQUACULTURE SOCIETY
€ 21 543
€ 79 661
CONSUMER INSIGHT - ANNE CATHARINA BECH
€ 59 760
€ 151 488
€ 101 391
INGENET INGENIERIA DE INFORMATICA YCONTROL SL
€ 139 900
€ 138 688,80
ZUMOS VALENCIANOS DEL MEDITERRANEO SA
€ 56 400
FODIX GROUP SAS
€ 21 066
PROVAC IMPEX SRL
€ 34 400
VERENIGING CENTRE DE LIAISON DES INDUSTRIES TRANSFORMATRICES DE VIANDES DE L UE
€ 35 280
CALION PROD SRL
€ 42 340
TUNAY GIDA SANAYI VE TICARET ANONIM SIRKETI
€ 47 200
CHRISTIANSEN PARTNER AS
BA CREATIVOS SL
€ 51 488
ZABALA INNOVATION CONSULTING, S.A.
€ 135 040
€ 18 000
Grant agreement ID: 288974
1 February 2012
31 January 2015
€ 3 672 090,35
€ 2 890 067
FUNDACION AZTI - AZTI FUNDAZIOA
Better environmental assessments
Grant agreement ID: 288974
1 February 2012
31 January 2015
€ 3 672 090,35
€ 2 890 067
FUNDACION AZTI - AZTI FUNDAZIOA
Final Report Summary - SENSE (HarmoniSed ENvironmental Sustainability in the European food and drink chain)
The SENSE project has delivered a harmonised system for the environmental impact assessment of food & drink products. The research has evaluated existing relevant environmental impact assessment methodologies, and considered social and ethical aspects, with the aim of delivering a new and integrated system that can be linked to monitoring and traceability data.
The system integrates:
- Matrices of key environmental performance indicators
- Methodologies for environmental impact assessment
- Regionalised data gathering systems
- A certification scheme
The harmonised system, in form of a software (SENSE-Tool) has been validated in the juice, meat & dairy and aquaculture food companies. The methodology and the software have been developed in a modular approach to that they could be further implemented in any food sector.
The outputs concluded in each research work package (indicators, regionalisation, communication strategies, pilot implementation and contribution to EU policies) have been duly contrasted and debated in the workshops organised by the project, as foreseen in the DoW. This in line with SENSE’s philosophy of harmonisations, and it is remarkable that the project has accomplished the aim that the WPs would be consulted to gather external advice and feedback.
In addition to the research activities performed under SENSE, the project has had a strong dissemination plan which all consortium partners have put into action. Results, recommendations and guidelines have been communicated to different target audiences: to the scientific community by publications and participation in congresses, to food chain stakeholders through national and international technological platforms, technical conferences, publications and trade fairs, to the general public (including consumers) through the project web page (www.senseproject.eu) and other dissemination activities carried out by the SENSE partners and thanks to the members of the SENSE External Advisory Board (EAB).
The project has openly communicated its achievements to the food & drink sector stakeholders, and it has successfully accomplished its objectives and results, some of which will be further exploit beyond SENSE.
Project Context and Objectives:
The food and drink industry in Europe generates more than 965 billion Euros, which is 13% of the European turnover, and employs more than 4.4 million people. This sector generates 14% of the total manufacturing jobs, summing up a total of 310,000 companies of which 99% are SMEs. However, this sector is highly fragmented and food chains are very complex .
The contribution of food and drink products to the environmental impact of the private consumption has been estimated in the EU to be about 20 to 30% for important impact categories such as climate change and energy use. Nevertheless, the most evident environmental problem associated with food chain was identified in the 80ties and still is the nitrogen and phosphorous leakage from the use of fertilisers in agriculture leading to eutrophication. The food production system has been identified as responsible for between 60 and 75% of the eutrophication in many industrialised countries, resulting in degradation of the water bodies and fresh water supplies.
However, nowadays the most known issue regarding environmental sustainability in the food chain is the impact on climate change through the energy use, partly since modern food production has still an extensive dependence on fossil fuels (e.g.: fertiliser manufacturing and vehicle fuel) and partly lo large emissions of other greenhouse gases from biological systems as animals, manure and soil. The contribution of the food sector to global warming has been estimated close to 30%, mainly due to high energy consumption, methane and nitrogen compounds and transportation emissions.
Moreover, water scarcity has been identified as a very important issue, since in many important food producing regions of the world the availability of water is becoming a significant problem. The food sector is using about 70% of the available fresh water in the world, and many problems with the present use of water in the food chain have been pointed out, related to poor water management and fresh water pollution . Other environmental problems for food production are related to the presence of toxic compounds, such as heavy metals in grains and dioxins in fish, or the losses of biodiversity caused by the food production methods used.
For the specific case of aquaculture, it produces at present more than half of the fish consumed in the world. In the EU, according to FAO statistics, the aquaculture production volume is 20% of the total aquatic production (extractive fishing and aquaculture), with an economic value of direct sales of 3,800 million Euros. To improve the aquaculture growth the European Commission issued Strategic documents in 2002 and in 2009: COM (2009) 162 final “Construction of a sustainable future for aquaculture: New impulse to the Strategy for a sustainable development of the European aquaculture”. This project is based in three pillars: promote the competitiveness, fix the bases for a sustainable growth and improve the image and management of the sector. European aquaculture should satisfy the consumer expectations along the whole food chain, from producers to professional organisations as well as providing adequate information to consumers and commercialisation links. In order to assure the sustainable growth of the activity, it has to be compatible with the environment, focusing on the safety and healthiness of fish products and used feeds.
A key sustainability aspect of aquaculture is the raw material sources used for feeding (basically from fisheries) and new sources (i.e. use of by-products). Due to lack of harmonised data, their impacts are not reflected on the most commonly used indicators. Another key factor is the quality of the water used in the farms and the quality of waste water released to the environment, as well as the improvements of the logistics in the commercialisation chain. To this respect, the need to develop a robust supply chain traceability and integrity and verification audits for aquaculture have been identified by the AICE-CEP (Association des Industries du Poisson de l’EU) as one of the principles for a sustainable environmental fish sourcing.
The most important meat&dairy products in Europe, in terms of economic value are cow milk, pork, wheat, beef and poultry meat . These commodities, in addition to providing a rich source of proteins to Europeans, are also important from the environmental point of view, because most of the greenhouse effect gases are produced by farming activities. In addition, meat production is inherently more resource demanding than vegetable production, since more feed is needed than meat is produced. This means that all impacts from e.g. grain and oilseed production connected to nitrogen and energy use as well as land use issues are amplified. In addition, the rearing of animal also includes emissions of methane, mainly from ruminants but also from manure management. Plant nutrients in manure is often more difficult to utilise in arable farming. From a lifecycle perspective, agriculture and its inputs generally dominate impacts in many categories . However, later steps in the chain can significantly affect the impact per consumed unit by avoiding waste; in fact this is often the most powerful option for post farm actors, as has been shown for dairy products . Meat&dairy production is also complicated to assess due to the complex production system with many interactions with surrounding systems, as feed production use of manure on cash crops etc. This leads to methodological challenges on how to distribute the burdens between systems. In addition, meat production systems often produce more than one product, e.g. dairy cattle produce both milk and meat; and living animals are turned into meat, meat by-products, hides and non-usable waste which need to be considered.
Approximately 550 million tons of fruits are produced in the world (Fruit Logistic), with Asia (China, India), America (Brazil, USA, Mexico) and Europe (Italy, Spain and France) as main producers. In the fruit and juice sector, as well as in other food and drink sectors, the environmental challenges are focused on improving the environmental performance by implementing technologies and methodologies to achieve energy savings, waste reduction and promotion of sustainable production and consumption. A key factor is the water use in the cleaning and bottling operations, the reduction of the volumes of waste waters and the reduction of the organic pollution in the waste waters. Other challenges are the use of bio-waste for energy or other uses, as well as the development of new packaging materials based on more sustainable raw materials. Last but not least, improvements in the logistics of the chain would contribute directly to improvements in the sustainability (from the environmental, economic and social point of view).
To face the current situation, there is a clear need of a harmonised environmental impact assessment methodology which could be implemented for any food product, economically viable and acceptable by the consumers, food industry and relevant stakeholders. The methodology should take into account connections with the social and economic dimension of sustainability, an approach that has been rare up till now. This will result in a methodology that truly represents the three pillars of sustainability .There is also a need for comprehensive environmental communication between the industry and consumers that would facilitate informed choices of food products that are labelled or otherwise communicated as being environmentally friendly.
However, SENSE partners believe that this is only a first stage. SENSE is aiming to go a step beyond a simple harmonised assessment methodology into a more active approach that will be beneficial for industries and for SMEs in particular. By means of incorporating a (regionalised) data gathering system, a matrix of key environmental performance indicators and a certification scheme into the new methodology the project will provide a tool to effectively reflect the sustainability-profile of any product. The e-information will allow food&drink chain actors, and especially industrial SMEs, to set realistic environmental sustainability goals and improve their competitiveness towards a more sustainable production culture to all levels of the production process. The sustainability information collected along the production cycle of any food stuff will be finally reflected into an Environmental Identification Document (EID) which will contribute to enhanced environmental sustainability motivation of the usual purchasing behaviour of consumers and provide a competitive advantage to those products (and companies) which choose to use this approach. The communication of the information will have a visual presentation that will be intuitively understandable by all the stakeholder of the food&drink sector, and especially the consumers.
SENSE hopes to contribute significantly to an increase in the environmental sustainability of food production and consumption by providing a sound harmonised methodology to fully assess the sustainable production of any food product and to measure the sustainability “just in time”. The products which reflect the environmental sustainability methodological assessment will help to fully introduce it into the usual commercialisation and purchasing processes. SENSE will perform testing of the new harmonised methodology in the juice, meat&dairy and aquaculture sectors; because of their overall importance in the European market and the related environmental challenges facing the food sector.
The main objective of SENSE is to deliver a harmonised system for environmental impact assessment of food&drink products. The research will evaluate existing relevant environmental impact assessment methodologies, and consider socio-economical, quality and safety aspects, to deliver a new integral system that can be linked to monitoring and traceability data. The concept of harmonised environmental impact assessment system will integrate: (a) (regionalised) data gathering system; (b) matrix of key environmental performance indicators; (c) methodology for environmental impact assessment; and (d) a certification scheme. The methodology will be transferred to food&drink sectors and stakeholders of the food supply chain by means of specific communications strategies.
The specific objectives achieved in the project are:
• To establish regionalised key environmental information, indicators and socio-economic information.
• To develop a comprehensive data collection system, oriented to be used by the industry that ensures consistency and comparability of compiled data.
• To implement and validate the developed harmonised methodology in selected food chains
• To design an Environmental Identification Document (EID) that reflects in an understandable, reliable and simplified way the sustainability profile of a food&drink product.
• To develop a comprehensive environmental communication plan addressed to the actors and stakeholders along the food&drink chain, including consumers. Standards and indicators for stakeholders will be reviewed, and environmental information system and concept protocol will be developed.
• To develop a proposal for policy and governance implementation of the achieved harmonised methodology to contribute to Sustainable Development Agenda.
The operational objectives that have ensured the achievement of the general aim of the project are:
• To evaluate existing environmental assessment methodologies with the purpose of constructing a harmonised environmental impact assessment concept model based on monitoring critical sustainability control points. This objective will be achieved by assessing existing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies, identifying “hot spots” along the food chain (farm production, processing, packaging, transportation and storage) as well as determining key environmental challenges, presented for food product groups and regions representing the variation within the EU.
• To standardise the collection and management of environmental data by an affordable system oriented to SMEs. It will be a reliable and comparable data collection system, taking into account regional differences, social and ethical issues, which will be loaded into an innovative software tool (SENSE-tool). The tool will be prepared to calculate the Key Environmental Performance Indicators (KEPI) and provide comprehensive environmental information that will be traceable.
• To create an Environmental Identification Document (EID) as a carrier of environmental information. The EID-Communication Platform will communicate in a simple and effective way the key sustainability data, and the information will be accessible to stakeholders, including consumers.
• To assess the deployment of the harmonised concept model, consisting of SENSE-tool, EID and EID-Communication Platform, a final full-scale validation will be implemented in selected food chains (juice, meat&dairy and aquaculture), actively involving SMEs in the deployment of the new model.
• To set the basis for further implementation and viability of the outcomes of SENSE in the European food&drink chains, it is foreseen to provide a public-private interactive governance framework for a wider consultation towards the production of Policy and Governance Road Map.
• To disseminate results, recommendations and guides to different target audiences. The scientific community will be reached by publications and participation in congresses. The food chain stakeholders will learn about the results of the project through technical platforms (international and national), technical conferences, publications and trade fairs. The general public, i.e. consumers, will access the information generated by SENSE through its web page, communications in newspapers and other dissemination activities organised by the SENSE partners and the members of the SENSE External Advisory Board (EAB).
The main results of SENSE are:
- Standard key environmental performance indicators (KEPI)
- Harmonised methodology for environmental impact assessment
- SENSE-tool for environmental data collection
- Environmental Identification Document EID and EID-Communication channels
- Certification Scheme Concept (CSC) for sustainability
- Road map for policy and governance implementation
The detailed S&T results of each working package that had lead to achieve the abovementioned results are:
WP 1 Harmonised environmental impact assessment methodology
Environmental challenges in the three selected supply chains beef/dairy, orange juice and aquaculture has been identified based on literature reviews. It was concluded that each of the three supply chains has their specific environmental challenges, however many challenges are the same. The production at the farm stage has generally the greatest environmental impact, while the production of packaging, transports and the final disposal (recycling) have less important impacts. The total environmental impact of the life cycle is therefore to a large extent dependent on the variability at the farm stage due to variations in the technical production system e.g. for the beef and dairy chain, extensive grassland versus intensive with high volumes of imported feed. Similarly, for the aquaculture chain the production systems vary and the feed has the main environmental impact caused by the use of forage fish and plant based feed components.
Additionally, regional differences in Europe has been investigated and available site-dependent methods for those regional/local categories has been reviewed in order to identify when regionalization is really needed.
It was concluded that in Europe there are different environmental and socio-economic realities and therefore the potential environmental impacts may vary significantly from one region to another. For example, in places where water scarcity is high the extraction of a litre of water has a higher impact than the extraction of a litre of water in an area with no water scarcity. On the other side, considering that food chains are becoming more global, the regionalization of impacts is the best way to measure the impact in a more accurate and robust way. However, on the review of existing methods it was observed that most of the methodologies do not suit to the complexity of the identified bio-geographical regions. This circumstance could lead to erroneous conclusions and increase the uncertainty of the results.
Moreover, it is difficult to find inventory data with the required spatial resolution. Producers often do not know exactly the origin of their supplies. Frequently the resolution on sourcing region is at country level but sometimes at continental level or even unknown origin.
The second difficulty to be faced is that there are a large number of material and energy flows from the background system. The data for these flows is not taken directly from the processes but are available in public or private databases. In this context, if regionalisation should be applied in a study then databases need to be updated to consider the regionalization. It is not recommended to use on one hand methods with a high spatial resolution for some flows and on the other, global averages for other flows. This situation could be solved by developing LCA databases with spatial differentiation. Thus, this study also pointed out that more accurate databases are still needed in order to obtain a reliable environmental impact analysis. Conclusions were:
• Land use, eutrophication, acidification, human and ecological toxicity and water stress impact potential show local differences in impacts.
• Land use, human and ecological toxicity are not recommended to regionalize due to the fact that models and assessment methods are still under development
• Acidification and eutrophication impact potentials are recommended being regionalized on a country level.
• Water depletion impact is recommended being regionalized by country or by riven basin stress index.
The aim of task 1.3 was to select a set of consistent environmental impact assessment methods and impact indicators for the three selected food groups and their supply chains. Based on the key environmental challenges identified in task 1.1 and the linked impact categories, an evaluation of current life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methodologies has been made. Existing methodologies has been reviewed as well as current developments. The ILCD handbook (JRC, 2010a) recommends LCIA methods for many impact categories and this has been a starting point for the review. The LCIA methods have also been reviewed on their suitability for the food sector and their practicability to use, as they would be used in the LCA’s of the three food supply chains in WP 2 of SENSE and in the continuation of the project.
WP 2 Tailoring environmental data collection from a regional perspective
Based on the harmonised environmental impact assessment methodologies discussed in WP1, WP2 provides a user-friendly IT-tool for comprehensive sustainability information. WP2 also provides an affordable and comprehensive data collection system to enhance the environmental information gathering and to allow obtaining standardized and comparable environmental information.
LCA have been performed in three SMEs belonging to three different food chains: One in a dairy farm and slaughter house in Romania, another in a Spanish orange juice producer and the third in a hatchery and salmon farm in Iceland and a fish smokehouse in France. For each chain and each relevant process step the Life Cycle Inventory Analysis and the Life Cycle Impact Assessment was done in order to decide the most suitable scope, allocations rules, regionalization and other technical aspects that the SENSE-Tool should take into account. All the LCAs have the system boundaries defined (Business to Business), the inventory basic assumptions, the description of the impact assessment methods and the main KEPIs. In the discussion the most relevant aspects, the allocation rules, the KEPIs and the regionalization issues are highlighted.
As for the regionalization, some characterization factors (e.g. ammonia, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxides for acidification) are available for some regions, thus increasing or reducing the contribution of direct impacts in the given categories compared to the contribution of background processes.
A pilot questionnaire survey was carried out amongst European food sector SMEs and trade associations (as partners in the SENSE project) asking about their knowledge, experience and engagement with social impacts along their supply chains. Proposals for an S (social)-LCA methodology have been are elaborated.
The main conclusion of the Task 2.2 is that while environmental issues can be linked directly to a product, the social issues cannot be linked to a product or process but to a company. This fact makes the social and environmental data gathering and the assessment different.
The final decision of the experts involved in this WP was to include six social questions in the SENSE-Tool, dealing with the aspects previously mentioned. These questions will be YES/NO type, with no ranking. The main innovation is that an IT tool integrates environmental and social questions in order to measure sustainability.
For each production step in the three selected food chains the environmental performance indicators and the units are defined. The idea of the KEPIs is that they reflect main environmental impacts, mostly reflecting data on resource consumption in the value chain. This KEPIs are among others: N-Fertilize use, P2OS fertilizer use, manure and slurry application pesticide use, diesel use, land use, water use, energy use, feed efficiency, organic waste to sea, packaging material, buildings, electric energy, etc… These KEPIs will help SMEs to understand the differences in the results for the LCIA indicators. The development and use of KEPIs are a promising approach to facilitate the application of LCA in complex supply chains with many small actors.
The system simplifies the data collection and information requirements oriented to every stage involved in the food life cycle focusing on obtaining and easy-to-use protocol to assess the environmental impact. The developed Guideline will help SMEs in the data collection and use of the SENSE-Tool.
The IT tool allows the SMEs to create their own food chain adding steps as they need. The tool also allows SMEs to ask their suppliers about environmental information to be added in the tool. Using the Ecoinvent commercial database and own data the tool calculates the environmental impacts based on the input data provided and indicates what aspects have the grater environmental impacts . The developed tool has been tested with the three real cases in which LCA has been performed in order to check that the obtained results are comparable. The tool of course includes regionalization and social aspects.
WP 3 Strategies for standardised and comprehensive environmental communication towards stakeholders
An initial review of existing use of communication of sustainable data was accomplished, and on the basis of this the communication platform towards B2B (Business to Business) and (Business to Consumer) B2C was discussed. This work was done in parallel with WP1 and WP2, securing the discussion in these work packages was integrated in the work with the platform (e.g. the discussion on the KEPI’s).
The EID is a document building on the output data from the SENSE-tool, using the same indicator units (Climate change: kg CO2-eq, Eutrophication: Terrestrial: molc N-eq, Acidification: molc H+-eq, Human toxicity: CTUh (Comparative Toxic unit for humans), Land use: kg C deficit, Abiotic resource depletion: kg antimony (Sb)-eq, Water depletion: European m3 water-eq)
It has been decided that the EID is connected to the product, produced by a company. So the first entry is the product, product type and the specifications of the individual product. Then the company identification, which will give the key to who has access to the data and how the further use of the data along the product chain, is managed.
For a specific product a yearly EID will be produced. If the individual company wishes to do it more often, it is their choice. This could be part of an improvement process of the product, where the development from one product stage to the next, could be measured as internal benchmarking.
Focus groups interviews in three counties have been completed, analysed and reported, and meetings with other stakeholders in three chains is incorporated in SENSE project.
The objective of the focus groups were to: understand consumer’s perception and attitudes towards sustainability and what motivate consumers to support sustainable food supply, explore consumers understanding of information on sustainability represented by use of examples from the study of sustainability in three food chains and to explore and evaluate communication platform alternatives to present the environmental/sustainability information contained in the EID to consumers.
The results show that consumers are motivated to act in a sustainable way but they do not always know whether their act in reality leads to more sustainability and at the same time there are different attitudes and perceptions of sustainability. From the participants point of view concerns related to sustainability involve several dilemmas that result in a trade-off decision and different individuals have different decision criteria that may be related to situations and/or concrete products
In general the consumer’s emphasis the Origin of the product is important as the consumer might prefer a local, a national or a product from a certain place, but also working condition and transportation is mentioned as a major concern.
Regarding sustainability the consumers perceived total energy-use and the total water consumption as important indicators. Also the land-use was perceived as questionable together with waste and working conditions. Finally information regarding use of medicine and other substances as pesticides are requested as this is also related to health and e.g. allergy towards antibiotics.
WP3 has work very closely to WP2 to assure that the input data for the SENSE tool are gathered and introduced in a comparable way. As far as the independency, the certification has to be done by a third party who would check the adequacy of the input data as well as the output (EID) data. This independent entity would inspect compliance with the defined CSC.
In order to fulfil several needs the SENSE communication platform has been constructed with several layers and it can be tailored in order to meet different information demands (e.g. B2B and B2C), that is, data can be tailored according to the specific target group (Business-partners, decision makers, different consumer groups etc.).
WP 4 Validation of integrated standardised SENSE-tool for sustainability assessment in food chains
The objective of WP4 was to validate the integrated standardised SENSE-tool in pilot studies in supply chains of meat and dairy products, fruit juice and aquaculture products in several regions in Europe. The aim was to achieve a fully functional and validated tool that would be applicable for the selected food products, but the software structure and methodology developed would be modular and flexible to be easily adapted to other products.
The first phase of the validation of the SENSE tool was focused on verifying the computation of the environmental impacts contributed by key environmental performance indicators selected for the respective food or drink production processes. It was concluded that the validation criteria was met and the SENSE tool could be recommended for dairy products, beef, orange juice and aquaculture salmon to perform a simplified environmental assessment for the impact categories: Climate change, Human toxicity, cancer effects, non-cancer effects, Acidification, Terrestrial Eutrophication, Freshwater Eutrophication, Marine Eutrophication, Freshwater Ecotoxicity, Land use, Water depletion and Abiotic resource depletion.
The second phase of the validation included comparison of the SENSE tool's results with full LCA case studies. The comparison showed that the results for the following impact categories: Climate change, Human toxicity, Acidification, Eutrophication (terrestrial) and Water depletion were comparable for the orange juice supply chain. For the beef supply chain the results were comparable for Climate change, Human toxicity, Ecotoxicity (freshwater) and land use. The results of the SENSE tool for dairy products and aquaculture could not be fully compared to the full scale LCA studies performed, because methodologies, allocation rules or datasets were different.
A close collaboration of the SENSE validation team and the tool developers ensured that improvements were implemented and the tool updated during the validation phases in Task 4.2. While this was challenging and caused delays in the validation work, this iterative process was important to ensure that the developed SENSE tool was functional and validated before it was delivered for testing by SMEs in Task 4.3.
The objective of the third phase of the validation of the SENSE tool was to assess the deployment of the tool in pilot trials in SMEs in selected food sectors; beef and dairy, fruit juice and salmonid aquaculture supply chains.
The risk that involvement of external companies would be a challenge had been identified early in the project. Therefore, corrective actions to minimise this risk were considered and SENSE partners that were involved in contacting the companies made additional efforts to motivate the SME and offered help with data input on-site.
The final number of participants testing the SENSE tool has been 27 (5 SENSE partners plus 22 external companies). As regards external companies, eight companies in the meat and dairy sector, five fruit juice companies and nine companies from the aquatic food sector tested the tool.
Since the tool is designed in a general way to allow different products to be analysed, mandatory fields were not defined and users could proceed with calculations without entering all data. Therefore, there is a risk that the impacts will be underestimated. Consequently, it was concluded that additional guidance was needed to fill in data and data checking by experts would be essential in the future application of the SENSE tool to prevent data gaps.
The on-line survey filled in by SMEs after testing the tool provided feedback from the companies on their awareness of environmental impacts. Included were also questions on the need for assessment on social impacts as part of the SENSE tool´s sustainability reporting feature. Degree of agreement with statements on the benefits of the SENSE tool gave an insight to the perceived benefit of using the SENSE-tool:
- Two thirds of the companies responding to the survey agreed on foreseen enhanced demand from their customers on information of environmental impacts as well as social impacts
- The results of the SENSE tool were considered a benefit for the companies to communicate both environmental impacts and social impacts as part of B2B communication or sustainability reporting, however 3rd party verification was emphasised
- SMEs are currently not familiar with LCA concepts and they only know about carbon footprint
- The tool may be useful for companies for self-assessment and to identify hotspots in their processes. Also to explore the effects of improvements for example change in feed composition
- A potential benefit identified was to use the results for marketing, but it was considered important that the SENSE tool had some kind of certification so companies could use it in marketing
- Benchmarking would be considered as a very interesting option, but only possible if enough verified data was available
- 3rd party verification is strongly recommended if results are used in B2B communication or for benchmarking
WP 5 Contribution to Sustainable Development Agenda
Research has found that although a majority of SMEs think that their environmental impacts are negligible compared with the activities of larger companies, SMEs are estimated to be responsible for 60-70% of the environmental impacts of EU business. The widespread view, from SMEs, from past policy, from the experience of this project and from expert stakeholders, is that where SMEs are reluctant to take steps to reduce their environmental impacts, this is because:
• They do not see these measures as being relevant to their own businesses;
• They lack capacity (time, financial resources, staff) to inform themselves about problems and available solutions;
• They lack capacity (time, financial resources, staff) to implement changes.
The Policy and Governance Roadmap therefore proposes measures to address these challenges by:
1. Promoting and educating for sustainability literacy, to make clear the relevance of the issues and the benefits of making changes; and providing local, tailored, practical support with implementation, to help SMEs put changes into practice.
2. Using the SENSE tool to support EU policy. The tool reflects and dovetails with EU policy frameworks on resource efficiency, Sustainable Consumption and Production, industrial development, climate, energy, the Single Market for Green Products, Corporate Social Responsibility, energy, waste and water, as well as the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and the 7th Environmental Action Plan. SMEs and the sector as a whole could use it to measure progress against targets in these agendas, or to demonstrate (cross) compliance.
3. Working synergistically with other EU policy instruments. A number of initiatives exist or are under development to increase SMEs’ participation in green markets. They include actions listed under Green Action Plan for SMEs, the ENVIFOOD Protocol, the Product Environmental Footprint, the Green EcoNet, the EU Eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) and EMAS Easy, the Environmental Compliance Assistance Programme (ECAP), the programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME), the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the innovation support themes of Horizon 2020, and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (EASME). This emerging policy framework could use the SENSE tool to further its objectives of improving sustainability performance, allow firms to demonstrate compliance or a track record for relevant and systematic data-keeping, or assess eligibility for finance. Many of the initiatives are at a developmental stage, and are therefore well placed to integrate the tool and adapt it to suit their needs.
4. Using the SENSE tool to support voluntary standards and certification schemes. This is potentially an important use for the tool, which covers the same criteria as many voluntary schemes, and could therefore be used either to demonstrate compliance or to show that firms have appropriate record-keeping systems in place and are conducting business responsibly. Schemes proliferate in all sectors and work at national, EU or global level. Examples in the sectors studied include GlobalGAP, the SGF Voluntary Control System, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council standards or the fruit juice CSR platform. Private standards run by retailers, manufacturers and food service companies are also important here.
The main DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES carried out along the SENSE project have been:
The web-site’s location is http://www.senseproject.eu/
The website is designed by the communication team from ZABALA and AZTI, which was also responsible with content updates and webmaster. The website has been and will be used as both external and internal dissemination tool, being built from both a public and a private password-protected section. The private section ensures access to the project news, status, documents, results, additional documentation and standards, project organization, pictures, presentations, templates, etc. for the project partners. Its design offers an attractive and user friendly interface and serves the needs of all user groups. The website has been permanently updated with information about upcoming events, newest IPR free outcomes of the project and downloadable presentations of the project.
Corporate image of SENSE
A corporate image is the identity or the perception of what an organisation attempts to convey to its public, and relates to the visibility to the outside world. The key outcomes are a better visibility and association of a company with certain (positive) criteria. These principles have been applied to this project as well.
The Corporate Design has given to SENSE a strong and clear image. The elements of corporate design are the logo, the corporate colours and the structure of design products, templates and fonts that have been used.
The newsletters disseminated through the website and emailed to the contact database, provided regular information to targeted stakeholders and organisations on the most relevant outcomes gathered in the project and its main results.
The SENSE movies have been and remains a key material for raising awareness and informs the public about project aims and accomplishments. Two project movies and a video with testimonials from SENSE-tool users are available for watching on the project website:
- The first video is a project presentation: http://www.senseproject.eu/node/320
- The second video that contains a simple explanation of the SENSE tool: http://www.senseproject.eu/node/314
- The third video contains success stories of SENSE tool users from dairy, aquaculture and fruit juice SMEs: http://www.senseproject.eu
TRITECC was responsible with the preparation of the brochures.
The first issue was released at month 6, and it was an initial 3-fold brochure that includes a general description of the project, objective, partners involved and results expected.
The second brochure is a 4-fold dissemination paper that presents developments in the SENSE project, and also an invitation to the WP4 workshop.
The third brochure is a 4-fold dissemination paper that presents the Blueprint Policy Implementation Roadmap for the SENSE Tool and was distributed at the SENSE Final Conference to all participants (more than 50).
A template for power point presentations has been designed, and includes key elements of the corporate image of SENSE.
Also, a PowerPoint Presentation containing information about the objectives, main results expected, consortium partners, and work structure of the project has been/is available. This presentation was and may still be used during events, workshops, meetings and conferences.
The complete list of dissemination activities is presented in the Annex 2 of the D6.3 Final Dissemination Plan (month 36 update). These are the main events:
AZTI, as a coordinator, was disseminating very actively the SENSE project at several important events during the last year of the project:
- 9th International Conference LCA of Food 2014, San Francisco (USA), 8th -10th of October 2014 :
o 1st Oral Presentation: “SENSE tool: Easy-to-use web-based tool to calculate food product environmental impact”;
o 2nd Oral Presentation: “Key Environmental Performance Indicators for a simplified LCA in food supply chains”;
o Poster Presentation: “Key environmental challenges for the European food and drink chain”;
o Poster Presentation: “The applicability of LCA to evaluate the key environmental challenges in food supply chain”;
- Aquaculture Europe 14, Donostia (Spain), 14th - 17th of October 2014, Oral Presentation: “Evaluation of the environmental sustainability of aquaculture products using the SENSE-TOOL”;
- Envifood Meeting Point 2014, Madrid (Spain), 11th – 13th of June 2014, Oral Presentation “Alimentamos un Futuro Sostenible”;
- Spanish LCA conference, 6th of November, presentation entitled: “SENSE-Tool: Herramienta para medir el impacto de la cadena alimentaria”;
- Basque Ecodesign Meeting, 17th of November .2014, Bilbao (Spain);
TRITECC, in the person of Bianca Pop, made a presentation of the SENSE Tool during 56th Annual General Assembly of CLITRAVI, held on 15th of May 2014 in Bucharest, Romania to 53 people representing members of meat associations all over Europe. A lot of positive feedback was gathered and the possibility of two further events was discussed. The director of the Romanian Meat Association (ARC) and the director of the Association for Promotion of Romanian Food Products announced that they are very interested in having such a presentation for Romanian companies, if possible linked with a small training on the tool.
Another national event where SENSE-Tool was disseminated by partner TTC was at the Research and Innovation exhibition – “UGAL INVENT” on 9th of October 2014 in Galati (RO) among scientific community (higher education, Research) and consumers.
- introduced SENSE project to a major targeted event - The European Federation of Food Science & Technology - EFFOST in Uppsala, Sweden on 25th of November 2014 by spreading SENSE flyers among participants: Scientific community (higher education, Research);
- together with other partners: UoI, AZTI, AAU, DTU-Aqua, CITY, ESU as co-authors had a poster presentation at LCM 2013 entitled “Science, LCM and communication tools for harmonised environmental and social sustainability in the European food and drink chain – The SENSE project”.
- held a presentation about SENSE Project at International conference “Juice World – 2014” on 23th -25th of April 2014 at Moscow, Russia;
- presented SENSE in the 3th, 4th and 5th SGF Newsletter with a database of more than 60 countries;
- introduced SENSE at the Best Practice Exchange Workshop on CSR, 16th of May 2014, Krakow, Poland;
- Oral presentation entitled “Hoja de ruta En RSC para el sector productor de zumos” in Madrid, Spain.
- held a presentation at “Methods to assess food production” on 18th of March 2014 at Ghana, Kumasi;
- introduced SENSE at Challenges for the Scandinavian food sector Workshop held on 24th of April 2014 in Sweden;
- co-author for several abstracts/presentations from 9th International Conference LCA of Food 2014;
- Oral presentation “Food sustainability: Contrasting consumers’ perceptions with science based information” at ERSCP 2014 Conference, 14th -16th of October 2014, Portorož, Slovenia;
- Oral presentation “Contrasting consumers´ knowledge with literature data” at Conference 17 European round table on sustainable consumption and production in Slovenia, 15th of October 2014;
Partners CLITRAVI, UECBV and SIK
- presented SENSE-Tool at CLITRAVI-UECBV joint meeting - Meat Sector Taskforce on Sustainability (MSTS) issues meeting held on 27th of October 2014 in Brussels;
- Poster presentation “A simplified sustainability assessment for aquaculture products using the SENSE tool” at a local event with more than 500 participants in collaboration with partner EFLA, 28th of October 2014, Reykjavík;
- Poster presentation “Perceived benefits and limitations of simplified sustainability assessment of aquaculture products using the “SENSE-TOOL” at Aquaculture Europe 2014, Donostia, Spain, 14th - 17th of October 2014;
- co-author for several abstracts/presentations from 9th International Conference LCA of Food 2014;
Partner PROVAC supported by TTC disseminated the project, distributed flyers and introduced the SENSE tool to all members of the Somes Aries Association (62 member farms in total) in two targeted sessions on the 7th of April 2014 and 8th of December 2014. Several aspects of the tool were discussed and also the project movie was played.
Partner PROVAC supported by CALION distributed flyers and presented the project at Agraria Fair in Cluj-Napoca, 24-27.04.2014 and during Agromalim Arad, 11-14 September 2014.
Also, partner CITY, in the person of David Barling, was very active:
- Conference presentations & invited talks
o Barling, D. & Parsons, K. (2013) “The European Commission and sustainable food: policy locations and crossings.” Paper presented to the Food Governance Session, 7th European Consortium for Political Research General Conference, Bordeaux, 4-7 September.
o Barling, D. (2013) “Food system transparency: a society-focused perspective”, presentation to: Towards food system transparency: An interdisciplinary seminar, St. Cross College, Oxford University, 16 May.
o Barling, D. (2012) “Communicating Sustainable Food: certification schemes & the supply chain”, plenary presentation to the Linking Environment and Farming’s (LEAF) President’s Event 2012, The changing faces of sustainability, HSBC Tower, Canary Wharf, London, 14 November.
o Barling, D. (2012) “Supplying and signalling Sustainable Food: episodes in food governance”, presentation to the Oxford University Food Governance Group Seminar Series, Green Templeton College, Oxford University, 07 November.
o Barling, D., Lang, T. and Lele, U. (2012) “Increasing Resource Efficiencies: Sustainable Consumption and Production in Food Systems”, in Alder, J. et al (2012) Avoiding Future Famines: Strengthening the Ecological Foundation of Food Security through Sustainable Food Systems. United Nations Environment Programme: Nairobi, Kenya: 29-38.
o Lang, T. & Barling, D. (2012) “Food Security and Food Sustainability: reformulating the debate”, The Geographical Journal, 178 (4): 313-326.
o Alder, J., Barling, D., Dugan, P., Herren, H.R. Josupeit, H., Lang, T., Lele, U., McClennen, C. Murphy-Bokern, D., Scherr, S., Willmann, R., Uphoff, N. (2012) Avoiding Future Famines: Strengthening the Ecological Foundation of Food Security through Sustainable Food Systems. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. ISBN: 978-92-807-3261-0.
o Smith, J. Barling, D (2013) “Social impacts and life cycle assessment: proposals for methodological development for SMEs in the European food and drink sector”, International Journal Life Cycle Assessment SOCIETAL LCA, Springer, DOI 10.1007/s11367-013-0691-0.
EAS Partner coordinated two articles for “Aquaculture Europe” magazine in order to disseminate SENSE in popular press. Aquaculture Europe is the magazine of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS). First article was published in the December 2012 Issue and was entitled “SENSE in the Food and Drink value chain” and the second article was published in the September 2014 Issue with the title “SENSE and the European single market for green products.”
Also, partner SFG in collaboration with the coordinator AZTI produced three articles for “Confructa” magazine regarding the environmental and social assessment for the juice industry. First article was published in December 2014 Issue, the second one is in the press at the moment being in the
January/February 2015 Issue and the third article will be published in the March/April 2015 Issue.
Regarding dissemination of SENSE in the popular press, also partner AAU coordinated two articles for national press, namely for Levnesmiddel Bladet magazine, article published in May 2012 Issue and for Tænk magazine published in July 2013 Issue.
Partner CI presented a paper at the International Food Marketing Research Symposium (IFMRS) 2014 which resulted in an article for Scientific Journal, abstract which is in review at the moment.
During the course of the project, five workshops were organized at the end of each work package (tasks 1.4 2.5 3.4 4.5 and 5.3). The workshops, constructed as round tables, where an important mean to receive feedback from experts with different perspectives in order to fine-tune, harmonize and reach a consensus on the deliverables of each Work Package. Deliverables or parts thereof have been sent to external experts so that they could read and review them beforehand. Each workshop dealt with the specific results of the work package.
The first workshop was organized in Brussels in 13th of March 2013, with the purpose to validate the results obtained in WP1: harmonized system for the environmental impact assessment of food & drink products, specially directed to European SMEs, with the assistance of an appointed expert panel. The workshop included presentations of the SENSE project and objectives, and of the results of WPs 1 and 2. Pointed discussions that involved the panel members and the consortium have lead to a better assessment of the work carried and a better direction for the future activities.
The second workshop took place in Copenhagen on 24th October 2013, and aimed to present the SENSE-tool constructed as the output of the integration of environmental data collection system and sustainability indicators. At the same time, the communication and education strategies developed in relation with the European Environmental Identification Document (EID) were discussed.
The workshop organized at the end of the 3rd work package took place in Valencia on the 26th of March 2014 aimed at receiving feedback on the achieved EID and the concept of the CSC, before starting their implementation in the selected food chains. Participants will be big retailers, SMEs and large Industries, LCA consultancies, RTDs, and policy maker experts. Identified stakeholders that will be approached include: members of the SAI Platform (www.saiplatform.org) members of the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (http://www.food-scp.eu)-working group on Environmental information tools and Global GAP (Practical manual for Good Agricultural Practice). Among the foreseen participants, those are expected, being key parts of the food value chain: suppliers of the agricultural sector, farmers and agro-cooperatives, agricultural trade, food and drink industries, packaging value chain, transport and logistics operators, retailers, end-of-life packaging recovery organisations, consumer NGOs and environmental NGOs.
The fourth workshop was held on 29th of September 2014 in Iceland. Was a practical one, based on the results acquired from analyzed food chains, aiming for food & drink stakeholders: SMEs, large industries, LCA consultancies, RTDs, and the European Commission. This workshop aims to present result of pilot validation and to receive feedback on the developed SENSE-tool and EID, using the experience of the invited experts.
The final workshop, at the end of work package 5 which took place in Brussels on 21st of January 2014, aimed policy makers, and its objective was to present and receive suggestions for improvement of the blueprint and to deliberate and agree the Policy Implementation Road Map as contribution to the Sustainable Development Agenda. More than 50 participants were present.
SENSE open seminars and final conference
Two open seminars and a final conference were planned for the SENSE project duration due to their demonstrated efficiency in better orienting of the work during the project and enhancement of the visibility of the project results.
The first open seminar took place on March 13th, 2013, in Brussels, and enjoyed the participation of the SENSE consortium and was open to the public. The project concept and objectives were presented, along with the results expected and obtained so far. The first open seminar was organized along the first SENSE workshop.
The objective of the Stakeholders Open Day Seminar was to have their feedback and inputs into the consortium work towards a harmonised system for environmental assessment and sustainability communication.
Around 70 persons participated at the seminar and workshop,among them being the following targeted groups: policy makers, food associations, FoodDrinkEurope, stakeholders along the food chain, scientific comunity (higer education, Research)
A second seminar which was an On-site seminar was organised at the end of the second year of the project, in Valencia on the 26th of March 2014 and included practical demonstrations in the fruit juice food supply chain.
At the end of the project a SENSE Final Conference was organized in Brussels on 22st of January 2014. The Final conference contributed to better orientating the work performed by the different partners and allowed the presentation of the results outside the consortia to receive inputs and new viewpoints.
As dissemination materials for the final conference, Tritecc was responsable to design the final brochure and also to concept the branded gadgets – personalized USB-STICK-s and PowerBank-s which were spread among the participants.
More than 50 participants were present and among them 15 were external representing Policy makers, the Consumer associations, Stakeholders along the food chain and Research Institutions/Academia.
EXPLOITATION OF RESULTS
A roadmap of the exploitation strategy for the SENSE project has been developed by constructing an exploitable foreground table summarizing the exploitation foreground. There are two main types of exploitable foreground in relation with the results of the project:
- General advancement of knowledge: where four main results will continue to be exploited in the form of scientific publication products (in principle, till 2016): Key environmental indicators for the food sectors analyzed in the project, harmonized methodology for environmental impact assessment, EID Communication platform, and policy & governance reports.
- Commercial exploitation of R&D results: the SENSE software tool for environmental data collection has been identified as a product that, if adapted to suit specific food chain requirements, has certain interest that should be pursuit to check its real possibilities on the market.
The SENSE partners that have shown interest on the exploitation of the SENSE Tool have been identified. According with the expressed interest, there are several profiles regarding exploitation activities:
a) Partners which would participate in the promotion and use of the tool under different type of licences:
- Research and Academic Use Licenses for University and Research Institutes
- Industrial Licences for individual Food Companies
- Multiple use licences for Branch organisations and sectorial Associations
- Third Party’s Use Licenses for Consulting and Projects
b) Partners that would take in charge, based on own contributions, the further development of the software for adaptation to the different sectorial requierements, software maintenance, and call center. They are called ‘principals’.
c) Partners that have offered their contribution on specific targets or aspects/modules.
d) Partners that would like to contribute in the promotion, marketing and dissemination of the tool.
During the last weeks of the project, a reduced working group was put in place to explore and characterize business opportunities, rights and duties of the different exploitation profiles, and work on an exploitation plan. This group has worked towards describing:
• Product Service description
– Technology and product specification
– Confidentiality (access to the tool, tool and server security)
• Market analysis
– Background of public (9 identified) and private initiatives (4 relevant)
– Market segment description and analysis (interests/needs/potential problems)
– Legal framework
– SWOT analysis
• Business strategy and implementation
– Segmentation and positioning (price/characteristics)
• Financial Plan
The main conclusions of the Exploitation plan for future activities are:
1. Principals will be in charge of the improvement/customization of the tool and will try to find additional financial help;
2. For the future development of the SENSE tool there are two priority sectors selected:
a. Fruit juice;
3. It is considered necessary to adapt or customize the tool to facilitate the uptake in the mentioned sectors. Specifications will be worked out in collaboration with the interested SMEs in each sector.
4. Verification of data by third partners seems a requirement of the market, so this will be taken into consideration.
POTENTIAL IMPACT (SOCIO-ECONOMIC)
SMEs, are the backbone of the European food and beverage sector, but find it difficult to take advantage of measures to ‘green’ their operations by reducing negative environmental and social impacts.
The SENSE tool is designed to help meet the need for simple, low-cost tools to enable SMEs to participate in efforts to improve the environmental and social sustainability of the European food and beverage sector.
By enabling SMEs to demonstrate their competence and commitment to measuring environmental and social impacts, it can help them reduce impacts, save costs, boost efficiency and extend their market access and competitiveness. By allowing them to benchmark their sustainability performance – internally or within sectors – it enables them achieve continuous improvement. It thereby helps them to meet societal, supply-chain and policy expectations for greener products and performance. It also enables their customers – manufacturers, retailers and foodservice – to assess SMEs’ credentials and choose greener products.
The web-based SENSE tool uses a simplified version of environmental and social lifecycle assessment (LCA and S-LCA) methods to enable SMEs to calculate the impacts of their products. It is specifically tailored to the requirements and capabilities of SMEs, and flexible enough to accommodate different products and production processes. The criteria are similar to those used in many public and private schemes to measure environmental and social performance.
EU food and beverage policy terrain is complex and heterogeneous. The food and beverage sector is one of the most regulated in the EU, with both national and EU laws and a proliferation of private certification schemes. It is important to stress that the SENSE tool is not another regulation or standard with which SMEs must comply. Rather, it is a tool that enables SMEs to measure and benchmark their performance and demonstrate awareness of and / or compliance with laws and schemes.
List of Websites:
Coordinator of SENSE
Linkedin: Begoña Pérez Villarreal
Grant agreement ID: 288974
1 February 2012
31 January 2015
€ 3 672 090,35
€ 2 890 067
FUNDACION AZTI - AZTI FUNDAZIOA
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 288974
1 February 2012
31 January 2015
€ 3 672 090,35
€ 2 890 067
FUNDACION AZTI - AZTI FUNDAZIOA
Grant agreement ID: 288974
1 February 2012
31 January 2015
€ 3 672 090,35
€ 2 890 067
FUNDACION AZTI - AZTI FUNDAZIOA