It all started with the Trend Seminar. The data-driven future of dairy was our topic. The technological disruption didn’t happen yet, or is just about to happen. When it comes to the future of dairy, we were confronted a lot with the topic of sustainability. How much impact technology can have if it’s used to promote sustainability in the food system. At the end of the Trend Seminar, many of our ideas were developed with attention to making agriculture more sustainable.
During the Trend Seminar, a lot of us tried to rethink our lifestyles. When it comes to food consumption, we often discussed and tried to figure out how we can replace the meat and dairy that we consume. We tried out new dairy substitutes, challenged ourselves to eat more vegetarian or even vegan, and thought about habits that produce less waste.
The student sustainability initiative
During the course Managing Product Development we continued the next CDTM climate action initiative by working on a project together with KPMG Sustainability Services. The goal was to design a digital solution to nudge end-consumers towards more environmentally friendly behavior using data-driven insights and gamification elements. We learned that sustainability is a very complex construct that has to meet a variety of requirements. We have started a student sustainability initiative at CDTM and tried to help our friends to rethink their habits, with small actions.
Consumer demand drives sustainability initiatives
Many people asked us “Why do you even want to approach end-consumers? It’s the producers that are responsible for all the pollution that we face!” But the producers represent the supply. And demand drives the supply. But what our team wanted to achieve, was a change of perspective. We wanted to develop a solution that shows people that everyone can contribute to climate action.
We started an online survey in which over 300 people participated. We came up with one area of climate action, with which everyone could start with. Food consumption. Food contributes over one third to our personal carbon footprint per year. And research confirms that by making more conscious and environmentally friendly food choices, we can reduce our food-related carbon footprint by up to 50% per year.
Reduce our food-related carbon footprint
We started to develop our end-consumer application called SVYVE. Eventually we have turned the serious topic of climate change into something actionable. How can the purchase of, for example, one single apple makes a difference in climate change? By adding all purchases around the globe up. This is what we aimed for. Many of us, including me, have the same thoughts when going food shopping: Does choosing this product or that product really make a difference? I don’t even know if this is positive – there is no transparency.
With SVYVE we wanted to give end-consumers the choice to make informed buying decisions in the supermarket by finally being able to access product life cycle emissions. Through scanning desired products and, eventually, choosing the most environmentally friendly product, a virtual tree can be grown and planted in a community. The virtual trees would then be translated into planting real trees in cooperation with NGO’s.
Consumers with an interest in environmental consciousness could use SVYVE to not only reduce their carbon footprint by comparing different options in the supermarket and adding up their carbon-saving choices. Additionally, consumers would be rewarded for sharing their data. They have an interest in sharing their scanned and chosen products to push suppliers and retailers to meet their sustainability needs. On the other hand, food-related businesses have an interest in the scanned product data to optimize their assortment, and thus production cycles, which was the basis for our business model. No matter if it’s related to your food choice, your travel, your free time, or even your job. Every choice makes a difference.
Klaudia Guzij, Carla Pregel-Hoderlein, Jana Petry, Katharina Brenner, Christian Spier, Andrea Socher; Elite Graduate Program "Honours Degree in Technology Management"