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The food and drink industry in Europe, of which 99% are SMEs, is highly fragmented, and food chains are very complex. Hence, to assess the environmental sustainability of a product there is a need for applying integrated, harmonised and scientifically robust methodologies, together with appropriate communication strategies for making environmental sustainability understandable to the market. However, there are difficulties in developing a commonly agreed methodology for environmental impact assessment that still need to be overcome, notably: complexity of food chains, large number of agents involved, different indicators depending on the business sector, regional differences related to biodiversity among other challenges, including climate change and complexity of the actual sustainability assessment tools - high data intensity, costs and expertise required.

SENSE will deliver a harmonised system for the environmental impact assessment of food&drink products. The research will evaluate existing relevant environmental impact assessment methodologies, and consider socio-economical, quality and safety aspects, to deliver a new integral system that can be linked to monitoring and traceability data. The system will integrate:

(a) (regionalised) data gathering system;
(b) matrix of key environmental performance indicators;
(c) methodology for environmental impact assessment; and
(d) a certification scheme.

The methodology will be transferred to food&drink sectors and stakeholders by means of specific communications strategies.

SENSE consortium is formed by a multidisciplinary team involving 23 partners from 13 countries made up by a combination of complementary profiles and coordinated by AZTI Tecnalia.

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Solutions for harmonized environmental sustainability in the European food chain