A Dublin-based startup called Evocco lets you measure the climate impact of what you eat by analysing your grocery receipt and calculating the carbon footprint of your purchases. The company is working to reduce carbon emissions associated with the production and distribution of food, which accounts for a third of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
To use the app, users simply photograph their grocery receipt using the app, which identifies the food products by reading the printed text and using machine learning. It then calculates the carbon footprint based on the store’s location and by checking the type, weight and origin of a food against a database. The database is maintained by Eaternity, a life cycle assessment company based in Switzerland. If the receipt doesn’t contain enough data on a product, Eaternity gives an estimate based on similar products and reference points such as national import and export statistics, which determine where a product is likely to have come from.
The app is currently available in the UK and Ireland. It gives users the option to offset their shopping by contributing to Go Carbon Neutral, an Irish not-for-profit initiative that plants native woodland.
Evocco also hopes to raise public awareness of the carbon footprint of different foods. While some factors are well-known- for example, animal products are typically more resource intensive than most plant-based alternatives, and importing products increases their footprint- the app also helps to identify other important differences between items, such as seasonality or whether refrigeration was required on the journey to market. It also offers ideas on how to reduce shopping emissions.
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A screenshot from the Evocco app, that analyses the carbon footprint of your grocery hauls (Source: CNN)
Who Started Evocco?
Evocco was founded in 2017 by Weldon and Ahmad Mu’azzam, soon after they finished studying mechanical engineering at Trinity College Dublin.
Mu’azzam says, “We saw the climate crisis as the greatest challenge of our time and so we decided to dedicate our professional careers to be an active part of this solution.”
According to an IBM survey in 2020, at least 57% of consumers would change their purchasing habits to help reduce their impact on the environment.
Besides the personal shopping app, the company is developing a digital tool to sell to food retailers, e-commerce platforms and delivery apps that will track the climate impact of a product’s journey through the supply chain. The aim is to help retailers provide climate impact information directly to consumers, while giving Evocco access to product data to improve its app.
Besides Evocco, other companies are hoping to reach the climate-conscious consumer. Capture estimates monthly CO2 emissions by asking users a series of questions on diet, transport and other factors, while My Carbon Action links to a user’s bank account, calculating their footprint from transactions.