In the continuation of the Convention on the State of Food Systems organized by the French government in 2017, BASIC analyzed for the French Environmental Agency (ADEME) the feasibility of calculating the costs of environmental externalities of food products throughout their life cycle, and of integrating these costs in food catering public tenders. The final objective of this study is to help local authorities reach by 2022 the threshold of 50% of “sustainable and quality products” in their food supplies as defined by the new law for “the equilibrium of trade relations in the agricultural and food sector and healthy, sustainable and accessible food for all” voted by the French Parliament in October 2018.


Representing a quarter of the carbon footprint of the French, food is a GHG emissions equivalent to transport or housing. It also generates significant impacts on the quality and consumption of water, the quality of soil and air, or natural areas and biodiversity. Most of these impacts are related to agricultural production, and to a lesser extent to transport, with strong differences depending on the products and their production methods.

The EGALIM law of October 30, 2018 offers elements of answer to support the development of a more sustainable agriculture and food supply: it identifies the role to play by the public authorities in catering and sets the objective of 50% supply of sustainable or quality products. This objective can be achieved with labeled products (SIQO and European Ecolabel), certified (HVE), or through purchases “taking into account the cost of environmental externalities of products during their life cycle”.

In this perspective, the French environment agency ADEME commissioned a study to the team composed of Basic and Aurélie Dressayre whose objective was to identify the methodologies and sources of data that could be included in public tenders to take into account account the cost of environmental externalities of food products throughout the life cycle. This study was organized around 3 components:

  1. Review the existing methodologies and data sources that make it possible to evaluate the cost of food externalities throughout its life cycle, in France and abroad;
  2. Identify opportunities and obstacles to their implementation in the context of public catering contracts. Identify cases of concrete application of the cost of environmental externalities in the context of non-food public procurement (in France, and if relevant abroad);
  3. Analyze good practices and difficulties in implementation. Based on the previous results, study the feasibility of integrating the costs of environmental externalities of food into public catering markets.


For further information (available in French only)