If you eat an apple in the spring [it's not the season, Editor's note], the impact on the environment will be less important by bringing it from Chile than by eating a French one!" Christophe Girardier's assertion is deliberately provocative. For years, we have been told that eating local is better for the planet than emitting CO2 by making our food travel around the Earth. This is often true, but it is not the only parameter to take into account. And by focusing on the sole impact of greenhouse gas emissions with the urgency of global warming accelerating, even though it is essential to drastically reduce them, we ended up forgetting everything else.
The entrepreneur, at the head of Glimpact, a firm assessing the environmental impact of products and companies, presents this Wednesday, May 24 two new applications for the general public. They are based on the PEF (for "product environmental footprint"), an environmental score developed by scientists under the aegis of the European Commission, which takes into account greenhouse gas emissions but also 15 other criteria: water consumption, land use, fine particle emissions, soil acidification, toxicity, etc.
Not giving lessons
The first tool, My Glimpact, is inspired by Ademe's carbon footprint simulator and makes it possible to calculate the environmental impact of one's lifestyle. Depending on the time you spend on it, you fill out the form by detailing more or less each position: your diet, your clothing purchases, your travel habits... Before the verdict falls, with a popularized score, expressed in the number of planets that it would take if the eight billion human beings lived like oneself (five planets, for an average Frenchman). We can then observe on which criterion its impact is the strongest, and what weighs most in our behavior.
After filling out a form detailing our habits, the app calculates the detailed environmental impact of our lifestyle. My Glimpact screenshots
It's like at the doctor's office, says Christophe Girardier. You first have to have a diagnosis to know what you can do about it." The entrepreneur denies giving lessons, but wants to help raise awareness to know which levers to operate in priority "according to what everyone is ready to change". Food, one of the main items of environmental impact, is one of these levers.
Apple juice greener than orange juice
That's where the second app, Glimpact Scan, comes in. Like Yuka, it allows you to scan products at the supermarket to know their PEF score. Again, we can see what the product weighs on the most, but also which stages have the most impact during its life cycle, how it compares to similar products and even what this environmental footprint corresponds to. We learn that eating a flank steak of beef would be like driving 239 km in a thermal car, or running 50 times his machine.
See alsoAre plant-based steaks really better for the planet?
For the moment, it is rather the average impact of a type of product, calculated from the very complete database of Ademe, Agribalyse. The application does not yet differentiate between Spaghetti Barilla, Galbani, Auchan or Leclerc, for example. More than 250,000 products are recognized during the scan, but there are only 10,000 different records.
The score displayed corresponds for the moment to the average for this type of product (here, a raspberry jam), but should eventually be differentiated according to the brand. Glimpact Scan screenshots
It is already an opportunity to do pedagogy and to evacuate preconceived ideas. Take a bar of dark chocolate. "When the manufacturer boasts of having changed the packaging to make its product more ecological, we will find that it weighs less than 1% of the total impact," says Christophe Girardier. If this is a good start, it should not overshadow the essential: 98% of the environmental impact is due to the production of raw materials, and this is where action must be taken to significantly improve the performance of the product. We can also compare different products from the same family, and discover, for example, that an apple juice has half as much environmental impact, on average, as an orange juice.
Call for transparency from manufacturers
Ultimately, Glimpact Scan intends to differentiate products by brand and adapt according to ingredients or manufacturing process. This will require that manufacturers agree to provide them with their data. A handful have already entered the base, from customers who are already working with the company to voluntarily carry out the environmental assessment of their products. A precise transparency indicator, on the application, whether the product is ranked according to detailed information or according to the simple average.
The tools, which required two and a half years of work, are completely free, Glimpact ensuring to finance itself by its primary activity for companies. As for the data entered by users to calculate the impact of their lifestyle, "they are not kept," reassures Christophe Girardier. After food, consumers should soon be able to scan their clothes and household products.