Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate - Measuring the environmental impact of food


Open Food Facts has been selected as one of the grantees of the 2020 Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate, co-organized by Google’s charitable arm, Google.org and the European Union’s climate knowledge and innovation community, Climate-KIC


Our challenge: assess the environmental impacts of all food products in Europe

Open Food Facts’s mission is to empower people to make better food choices for themselves and for the planet, by creating full transparency of the food system.

Unlike nutrition, it’s hard to assess the exact impact of all your personal food choices on the planet and change your behaviour accordingly.

To counter this problem, we will compute environmental footprints for millions of food products across Europe, and link them to barcode scanning so that consumers and producers can take specific actions to reduce their impact.

We hope it will support a greener, more sustainable economic recovery by empowering producers to eco-create or eco-improve the products they sell, and consumers to reorient their food choices for the planet.

We also hope that - if we’re successful - that in five years, a majority of food products sold in Europe will have an environmental impact front-of-pack label recognized by hundreds of millions of consumers, and producers will be actively reducing their impact.


What is the Google.org Impact Challenge?


Per Google.org’s words, “This program is designed to help scale existing initiatives to meet the demanding challenges of addressing climate change. It commits €10M to fund bold ideas that aim to use technology to accelerate Europe’s progress toward a greener, more resilient future.”

In other words (our own), this is a large grant (1,1 million euros) to work on the ambitious project we proposed to the Google Impact Challenge contest and accelerate the work we’ve been doing on the environment.


We have already started with the Eco-Score... but it's only the start!

Less than 2 months after the launch of the Eco-Score in France, we have already seen consumers and producers engage with the Eco-Score and start changing their behaviours. That’s great !

Environmental assessments have to be adapted to each country, and to each product. For instance, depending on the transportation methods, the breeding and cultivation methods, or the origins of the ingredients, the environmental impact will vary.

The data we are using is also very French. We have a lot of information on the famous French cheese diversity, but very little on European specialties like the Belgian waffle or the Polish Bigos. Expanding to all European countries will require substantially more resources than the initial launch of the Eco-Score, which leveraged the incredible work by ADEME.

We want to offer producers very precise computations to help them change their products for the better and thus increase our impact beyond consumer behaviour change to systemic change.

This massive change of scale is exactly what the Google Impact Challenge is about. Food related emissions represent a large part of global carbon emissions, and we feel the environmental work we’re doing could be part of the solution.

Eco-Score on the Open Food Facts app

How will we do it?

Geographical extension of our environmental evaluation

In the first phase, we will gradually extend the initial version of the Eco-Score to Europe, by adapting origin, packaging and label computations country by country to enable all Europeans to benefit from the pedagogical virtues of Eco-Score.

Getting environmental assessments to the next level

We will then add a new system to Open Food Facts, that will enable us to compute more precisely the environmental impact of food products and to further adapt the Eco-Score computations to other countries, including handling the cases where we lack data, or that we need to assess new kind of products (like the Belgian waffle, the Polish Bigos or the Spanish Turron).

Helpful tools for consumers

We will ensure you can assess the environmental impact of your food in the Open Food Facts apps, and get useful information about it.

Adding environment support to our free platform for producers

We want to offer producers very precise computations to help them change their products for the better and thus increase our impact beyond consumer behaviour change to systemic change.

Support the rapid growth of the Eco-Score both on the digital and physical world

Support the rapid growth of the Eco-Score both on the digital and physical world through our apps, open API ecosystem and new and existing partnerships (producers, governments, researchers, apps…)

In parallel, we will:

  • Adapt our producer platform and apps to help gather even more data about the environmental characteristics of products.
  • Gather additional environmental assessments to support global expansion
  • Support the rapid growth of the Eco-Score both on the digital and physical world through our apps, ecosystem and new and existing partnerships (producers, governments, researchers, apps…)

What it will change, and what it will not change

Please rest assured that this grant won't change anything about the Open Food Facts projects and goals

We will of course continue to release everything that we do for free as open source and open data (The power of open source and open data was actually noted as a strong point for maximizing impact in our application).

Google.org is financially helping us (and other winners) accelerate a complex technological project to expand our environmental impact to all Europe. The condition is we actually execute the project we proposed, and help make a large impact on the carbon challenges we all face.

How you can help us

Translate Open Food Facts in your language

You can help bring Open Food Facts to more people around you by translating the software and the critical parts of Open Food Facts: https://wiki.openfoodfacts.org/Translations 

Help bring Open Food Facts to your language

Become an Open Food Facts contributor by adding products using the app

Become an Open Food Facts contributor, and add products from the country you live in, taking photos of the labels

Start adding products using the app

Join one of our volunteer engineering teams

Join one of our volunteer engineering teams to tackle some of the many challenges we face: Mobile, Machine Learning, Web Design, you name it :-)

Our development page: https://world.openfoodfacts.org/development

Our many repositories on GitHub: https://github.com/openfoodfacts 

Find how to contribute on the Development page

Spread the word

You can share the word among your friends. The more people use Open Food Facts, the more products we collect, the more useful it becomes for everyone, for health and the environment, without waiting for the Eco-Score to be ready for all countries.

If you’re a journalist, we prepared a press kit for you, and we’re also fully available to help you talk about Open Food Facts, whether you want to cover the Impact Challenge or other topics like Nutri-Score, our incredible community of volunteers, or any topic you’d like.

Contact us at contact@openfoodfacts.org