We are proud to publish the first working paper for the Green Consumption Assistant project. In this paper, our colleague Cathérine Lehmann summarises our decision-making processes for sustainable product recommendations, as well as possible approaches for scaling up.
Data availability on the sustainability of products is low which poses challenges for actors from all sectors dealing with promoting sustainable consumption. We describe how we currently provide users of a Chrome browser extension with general sustainability advice and with recommendations of best-in-class products in terms of sustainability. Then we outline a possible concept towards more automatisation and thus scalability of the current approach. For the latter, we discuss six different schemes for generating large-scale green recommendations on a product level, finding that currently product sustainability can be best evaluated in terms of data availability when resorting to lists of labelled products. In the future, Product Environmental Footprints and similar data should be more easily available in order to have quantifiable data for research and for showing more information to users. Overall, an integrated approach, including e.g. aspects of organizational sustainability, might help to fill data voids and/or to provide a more complete picture of a product’s sustainability level.