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Display of the environmental footprint of products : French developments in the food sector

Sustainable household consumption can be an important engine for a greener economic growth. In France, the “Grenelle” environmental laws include the right for consumers to have information on the environmental performance of (mass market) products at the point of sale. Food products are concerned. It is expected that providing consumers with this environmental information could lead the whole chain, agricultural producers to retailers, to market more sustainable goods. In this paper, we will first present some other European and international, public and private initiatives, then themethodological challenges and finally the latest developments of the French system, which is unique in the world because of three main characteristics: i) it relies on a legislative pillar, ii) it aims at providing a life-cycle based and multicriteria environmental information (including but going beyond the product carbon footprint, with, for example, a water footprint representing water pollution and consumption) and iii) because it could be generalized in France in the future.We conclude on the double need to harmonize the different European initiatives and to think about the coexistence of different consumer information systems in France.

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