Fruits & Vegetables Calendar - Milieu Centraal

Insights in environmental impact of fruits and vegetables

Milieu Centraal is a Dutch organisation, which helps consumers to make sustainable choices. One of the products of this organization is the Fruits & Vegetables Calendar. This calendar provides insights in the sustainability of different types of fruits and vegetables. The calendar shows the environmental impact of fruits and vegetables per season and country of origin. To make it clear different environmental classes (A – E) are used. On the bases of those classes the consumer can make a (sustainable) choice. Since 2009 Blonk Consultants is involved in this project and provides input to classify the different vegetables and fruits. In order to calculate the environmental impacts the entire life cycles of the products are analysed.

From April 2020 the Fruits & Vegetables Calendar is no longer available. Read more on the Milieu Centraal website (in Dutch).

Environmental classification

To get insights in the environmental impact of vegetables and fruit the entire life cycle of the product has been analysed. This means all life cycle stages, from cultivation, to transport, packaging and finally the (super)market, are taken into account. For those different phases the environmental impact has been calculated. Besides that the scores regarding carbon footprint, energy use and land use are mapped. Those scores are translated into the environmental classes (A to E). For this, the newest standard and international method ReCiPe 2016 has been used.

Applications of the calendar

The Fruit & Vegetable Calendar is widely used by consumers to make a conscious choice. Moreover, the calendar is used by companies, for instance to make a portfolio more sustainable. An inspiring example is a caterer which used the calendar to create a more sustainable menu. As a result, this caterer just serves fruits and vegetables with an A or B class.

An example: strawberries

Fruit & Vegetables with an A or B classification are, regarding environmental impact, the best choice. However, the score of one product can differ per season. In summer strawberries are an excellent choice (class B). in this season most strawberries come from the Netherlands and Belgium and are grown in open field. In winter this is completely different. In this time of the year most strawberries are grown in heated greenhouses or arrive by plane, for instance from Israel. This means the environmental impact is considerably bigger. In winter time strawberries have a D classification.

More information about this project? Or interested in an LCA of your products?

Contact Jasper Scholten, manager Life Cycle Assessment
Tel +31 (0)182 579970