Check out your shopping’s carbon footprint

Irish firm, Evocco, is looking for testers for an app that allows shoppers to check their carbon footprint as they browse the food aisles, writes Ruth Doris.

Check out your shopping’s carbon footprint

Irish firm, Evocco, is looking for testers for an app that allows shoppers to check their carbon footprint as they browse the food aisles, writes Ruth Doris.

We should be more aware of the food we buy, of how it’s produced, and where it comes from, for the sake of sustainability.

But reading the labels and doing the research are a time commitment.

Well, an Irish startup will do the work for us.

Evocco has a simple solution to help shoppers make more environmentally-friendly choices at the supermarket. It will provide them with information about the carbon footprint of the products in their shopping basket.

Co-founders, Hugh Weldon and Ahmad Mu’azzam, conceived the idea while studying mechanical engineering at Trinity College in Dublin.

Mr Weldon says: “We’re engineers. We like to solve problems, and this is the greatest challenge of our time.”

Having looked at renewable energies and ethical solutions, they found that, “until we create and fulfil consumer demand, changes aren’t going to happen at the speed that we need”.

“That’s why we moved toward behavioural change and to empower people to learn more about the environment and change the way they spend their money,” he says.

The information provided by the app (the app is in the beta version) is a measure of global warming or the CO2 equivalent.

Mr Mu’azzam says Evocco are hoping to bring a more “holistic” environmental score by adding other parameters, including water usage, indirect effects on human health, biodiversity loss, resource use, and pollution to groundwater.

Using the app is as simple as taking a photograph of your food shopping receipt.

The user receives an instant impact score, which includes the nutritional content of the food and its environmental impact.

Using data from the scientific and research community, it shows the user which foods are the most nutritious for the lowest environmental impact.

The app allows the user to analyse their receipts after their shopping trip or they can build a basket from a product list.

It also gives tips on how the shopper can reduce their carbon footprint on their next trip to the supermarket.

Evocco’s founders believe that their app is unique in the market.

Most food apps on the market are looking at allergen, health, and dietary-related information, but none of them focus exclusively on the environmental impact of food.

Mr Weldon says Evocco is open to partnering with other apps and platforms.

“Our main mission is to reach as many people as possible to maximise our impact," he says.

The way we see ourselves moving, long-term, is offering the Evocco experience as a white-label solution to other apps, as well. For example, having that environmental feature on, say, MyFitnessPal, or a food app, to enable us to reach more people.

Mr Mu’azzam says a “tactic” for Evocco to raise funds has been entering competitions, which helps the company with their business development and provides much-needed cash.

Evocco, previously called Counting Carbon, has won and reached the finals of several climate awards.

Early in 2017, the team entered the Unitech Carbon Footprint Challenge and won the top prize of €4,000.

A subsequent sponsorship allowed the team to take part in the MassChallenge accelerator programme in Switzerland for five months, with all expenses paid.

Evocco was also one of the winning projects in the Netherlands-based What Design Can Do Climate Action Challenge, receiving €10,000 in non-equity funding.

Offering a free service for users, Evocco’s revenue model is to partner with eco-friendly brands and earn money through advertising.

Starting in Dublin, the Evocco team is looking to target small, niche, and organic food retailers, before moving to larger supermarkets.

The next step is to run pilots over the summer.

Once the model is running successfully in Dublin, Evocco plans to expand throughout Ireland and into the UK, before moving into the European market.

Currently a team of six, based in Dublin, the company has been working with 40 users to develop the app.

They are looking for more testers.

Interested parties are invited to sign up to the Evocco website.

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