Maëlys Courtat

Doctoral Practitioner in Sustainability, in collaboration with Unilever

Academic and research departments

Centre for Environment and Sustainability.


My research project


Maëlys Courtat, P. James Joyce, Sarah Sim, Jhuma Sadhukhan, Richard Murphy (2023) Towards credible, evidence-based environmental rating ecolabels for consumer products: A proposed framework

Environmental rating ecolabels are a new generation of ecolabels. They are intended to enable consumers to compare the environmental impacts of multiple products and make more sustainable consumption choices. Falling outside of the three types defined in the ISO 14020 environmental label and declarations series, the recent proliferation of these business-to-consumer communication instruments has resulted in the creation of a plethora of methodologies to derive product performance ratings. Interest from consumers wanting more information on the products they purchase, as well as the promise of policy instruments aiming to increase transparency and combat greenwashing, are fuelling further multiplication of schemes. A move towards more credible, evidence-based environmental rating ecolabels is therefore urgently needed to promote assessment based on scientific understanding, gain consumer trust, and realise policy objectives.

We propose a framework based on four core principles - i) relevance, ii) scientific robustness, iii) trust and transparency, and iv) feasibility (scalability, affordability) - with 18 guidelines that can be followed by rating scheme developers. We characterise the rise of environmental rating ecolabels in geographical Europe and build an inventory of 33 existing schemes, at various stages of development and implementation, to which we apply the framework. This reveals the potential for significant improvement in current schemes, indicating important areas for development. The framework provides a valuable guide for the development of new schemes or an evaluation grid for existing initiatives.