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What’s with the number in the yellow circle?

Let’s start with a pretty well-informed guess: you’re here because you want to shop more sustainably (after all, 98% of shoppers say they do). Right?

Yep, us too. But actually doing that – by knowing which products tick the right boxes for the planet – was always pretty tricky.

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The Dayrize Sustainability Assessment Tool

So we brought together a renowned team of scientists with a shared passion for sustainability, and developed The Dayrize Sustainability Assessment Tool. Our very own proprietary technology, built specifically for one purpose: to know and understand the environmental impact of every product. It’s really complex and groundbreaking technology (we could talk about it all day, really), but the simple output is – you guessed it – that number in the yellow circle. The Dayrize Score. And it means for the first time ever, we can accurately compare the environmental impact of products as we shop.

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A Unique Score

Sustainability Assessment Tool to measure how closely a product adheres to our ambitious definition of sustainability.

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A Rigorous Process

To do that we first analyze information from our brand partners themselves on their product.

5 dimensions of sustainability

We assess this product information against these five recognised dimensions of sustainability:

  1. Circularity: how well an individual product minimises waste by reusing and recycling resources to create a closed loop system
  2. Climate Impact: how greenhouse gas- intensive the production of the product has been
  3. Ecosystem Impact:how heavily a product impacts biodiversity and water depletion
  4. Livelihoods & Wellbeing: how each product impacts the health and wellbeing of the people involved in creating it
  5. Purpose: how meaningful a product’s purpose is by looking at the value that it provides, and the potential it has to be an accelerator for good.
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Are you intrigued? Keen to learn more?

Or just a sucker for long explanations of our technology (we did warn you) and how we calculate the Dayrize Score?
Step this way for the long read.

The long read

To help really unpack everything that goes into the Dayrize Score, we asked one of our founders, Industrial Ecologist Eva Gladek to explain. She's truly committed to making it easier for us all to make the small changes that make a big difference for the planet - and it shows! Happy reading.

It’s an uncomfortable truth: the products that we consume on a daily basis – to keep ourselves fed, clothed, and entertained – are one of the major causes of environmental destruction and climate change. In fact, researchers have estimated that 24 - 48% of our personal ‘footprint’ comes from the products we buy.

But, don’t despair: it is possible to make products that have a lighter footprint. Products that are made of renewable materials grown using regenerative farming practices, designed in a circular way, and made with respect for both people and animals. Products that are genuinely sustainable.

Sustainable products

At Dayrize, we set a pretty high bar for what we mean by a sustainable product. Here’s our own definition:

A truly sustainable product is one that fulfils a meaningful purpose, is designed in a circular manner, is non-hazardous, responsibly sourced, fully recyclable, is either low-impact or regenerative across a range of impact indicators, and supports the health and well-being of people and ecosystems at every stage of its life cycle.

Just imagine a world where every single product fulfilled this definition. There would be no waste! People would be dancing in the street! And, of course, nature would finally be allowed to thrive.

You might ask: how do you know if you’re buying products that live up to this promise? Fair question. After all, with over 400 ecolabels on the market, many of which are really specialized on just one aspect of a product’s sustainability credentials – and none of which can be easily compared to one another – it can be very confusing to understand which products are genuinely good across the board.

That’s where the Dayrize Score comes in.

Simply put, the Dayrize Score is a measure of how closely a product adheres to our ambitious definition of product sustainability. The higher the score, the closer a product is to sustainable perfection.

Keeping the bar high

As you might imagine, it’s not easy for products to actually score 100%. If most products did, we wouldn’t have a problem. But you can rest assured that any product listed on Dayrize is already way ahead of the curve – and any score about 40 is already pretty sweet. That’s partly because before we even consider listing products on Dayrize, the brands have to ensure they fulfill the following criteria:


  • no child labour
  • no forced labour
  • no animal testing
  • fair compensation
  • safe working environments
  • no uncertified sourcing of high-risk commodities (like palm oil)
  • no increased threat to endangered or at risk species
  • no carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reproductive toxins
  • no microplastics

Whew. Now that’s a relief, right?

We have a third party verification agency conduct spot checks on our partner brands to ensure the accuracy of what they report to us. Once products have passed that hurdle, we roll our sleeves up and get to the data crunching. First off, we collect a whole lot of information about every product listed on Dayrize: the materials it’s made of, where those materials were sourced, the manufacturing processes that were used, any ecolabels the product has, and a lot more, which we collect directly from our partners.

We then use this product-specific data, in combination with a range of global datasets, to calculate how the product is performing on each of the five sub-dimensions that make up the Dayrize Score:


  • Ecosystem impact
  • Climate impact
  • Livelihoods and wellbeing
  • Circularity
  • Purpose

Let’s go a bit deeper…

Each of these dimensions has real impact on both people and our planet – and accordingly on every product’s Dayrize Score.

Ecosystem impact

Our ecosystems are under threat. Humans have modified 75% of the Earth’s land surface for our own uses; we have lost 50% of the world’s coral and 85% of its wetlands (IPBES, 2019). We could go on… but you know the story. This dimension of the Dayrize Score evaluates the likelihood that a product is contributing to negative impacts on our global ecosystems. We evaluate this in two ways:

  • Biodiversity impact: the primary driver of terrestrial biodiversity loss is when humans take natural land, like forests or savannahs - and turn it into agriculture or build factories. To calculate our biodiversity impact metric, we itemize all of the raw materials in a product, and we assess how much land was needed to produce those materials. This is particularly relevant for products made of biological materials requiring agricultural inputs, e.g. cotton sourced for producing textiles, ingredients in home and beauty products, or any food products. Based on the production practices used to make those materials, we’re then able to assess how much natural habitat was displaced. But we don’t stop there: we also consider where this natural habitat was displaced – for example, was it in a rainforest with high levels of native biodiversity? Our calculation is based on the methodology for the Biodiversity Impact Metric, developed by the University of Cambridge and the Natural Capital Impact group.
  • Water depletion: you may have heard that freshwater only makes up 3% of all of Earth’s water – and most of that is actually locked up in glaciers or underground. The available 0.5% of water that we’re able to use is a precious resource, and it’s under stress in many parts of the world. In fact, 2.4 billion people around the world are living in water scarce areas[2] – and our use of water puts additional pressure on ecosystems that also need water to thrive. To calculate this metric, we assess the water footprint of each product: the water needed to produce the raw materials in the product, as well as water used in manufacturing. We use the location of sourcing and production to analyze not just how much water was used, but, more importantly, how much the use of that water contributed to water stress. We use the World Resource Institute’s Aqueduct tool as the basis for this geospatial analysis.

Our sources for the Ecosystem Impact Score:

  • Ecoinvent 3.7
  • Biodiversity Impact Metric developed by the University of Cambridge and Natural Capital Impact Group
  • World Resource Institute’s Aqueduct 3.0
  • Farooq H, Azevedo J, Belluardo F, et al., 2020, WEGE: A new metric for ranking locations for biodiversity conservation. Divers Distrib. 2020;26:1456-1466
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Data
  • Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) datasets

Climate impact

Climate change is real, it’s happening, and it’s bad. We’re in a race against time to drive down greenhouse gas emissions to stay in line with the roadmap of staying below 1.5 degrees centigrade of average global warming. To calculate this sub-score, we generate an estimated carbon footprint of each product. We consider emissions from fossil fuel use, transportation, electricity use, industrial gases, and land use change: basically everything that can result in greenhouse gas emissions. We consider both emissions from the product as well as its packaging, using life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) data from Ecoinvent. We calculate the carbon intensity of the product and standardize it to kg CO2eq per kilogram of product, which allows us to make comparisons between different types of products. We look specifically at the following life cycle stages:


  • Resource extraction
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution

Within the greenhouse gas accounting industry, we refer to different “scopes” (1, 2, and 3) to describe the range of activities that have been included in a carbon accounting assessment. With that perspective in mind, here we are considering scopes 1 and 2, as well as part of scope three.

Our sources for the Climate Impact score:

  • Ecoinvent 3.7
  • Bertoli S., Goujon M., Santoni O., 2016, The CERDI-SeaDistance database, FERDI
  • Google Maps API
  • Final energy consumption in the industry sector by the Dutch Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
  • Prodcom database by Eurostat

Circularity

You may have heard about the circular economy: a paradigm for creating an economic system that is waste-free and regenerative by design. Moving toward a circular economy has become an important priority for governments and companies around the world. But achieving circularity involves a lot more than just getting much better at recycling. We need to design products in such a way that they are actually possible to recycle, sell them using business models that encourage long-term use, and make it easy to repair and reuse products. In an ideally circular economy, high value materials will circulate indefinitely or be safely reincorporated into biological cycles - reducing our need for new sources of virgin material. To assess how well a product is driving forward the ambitions of a circular economy, we look at its performance on the following indicators:

  • Circular material content: we define this as the percentage of reused, recycled or regeneratively produced material in both the product and its packaging
  • End-of-life business model: we assess whether a product has a take-back scheme for reuse and how well it presents information for end-of-life handling to customers.
  • End-of-life recyclability: we evaluate the potential for the materials that the product is made of to be recycled at high-quality at the end of a product’s useful life.
  • Product lifetime extension: we check if there are services in place that can actually extend the lifetime of the product, such as repair services or replacement parts

Our sources for the Circularity score:

  • Primarily academic research, especially: Singh et al, 2019, Evaluating approaches to resource management in consumer product sectors - An overview of global practices, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol 224, p218-237, Elsevier

Livelihoods and wellbeing

The word “sustainability” is often most closely associated with protecting natural ecosystems, but an equally important dimension of sustainability is the health and wellbeing of people across product value chains. Though we require all partners to ensure that their products are made with respect and care for the people involved in the production of their goods, we use our sustainability assessment tool to rate how well people are treated as well as to flag any risks that we want to take an extra look at. We ask our partners to provide detailed information about the level of remuneration, working conditions, and rights of the workers across their supply chains. Then, using a range of datasets - such as those provided by the International Labor Organization - we screen whether any of the materials in the product are associated with any risks across the following categories:

  • Child and forced labour
  • Living wage
  • Working hours
  • Discrimination (gender wage gap)
  • Collective bargaining
  • Occupational health and safety risk
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Pension benefits

If we identify a risk related to the material inputs and sourcing locations for a product, we require our partners to provide third-party assurance in the form of relevant labels or certifications to guarantee that these risks have been managed. We scrutinize the quality of the labels themselves to ensure that they are legitimate and respected sources of truth.



Our sources for the Livelihoods and Wellbeing score:

  • ILOSTAT database
  • UNICEF
  • Global Slavery Index (GSI) & US Department of Labor’s (ILAB) forced labour data
  • Wageindicator.org
  • World Bank Open Data

Purpose

It is very difficult to create a product that has zero negative impact. Manufacturing a product always requires raw materials and energy; the Dayrize Score is designed to make it easy to identify the products that have the lightest footprint. But if we’re really going to deliver on our mission of “bringing consumption within planetary boundaries,” then we also need to ensure that we’re not using scarce and valuable raw materials for the creation of products that are not fundamentally adding value - or are potentially leading to an unsustainable lifestyle by virtue of what they’re used for. For example, you can have a very sustainably-produced electric pepper mill, but you might ask whether you really need an energy-using device to grind your pepper. Likewise, we want to reward products that are designed to support more sustainable behaviour or eliminate impact: like bicycles that facilitate more sustainable mobility or reusable goods that replace disposable alternatives.

In this part of the Dayrize Score, we evaluate two primary factors, which we use to capture the functional sustainability of products beyond just the impacts associated with their footprints:

  • Value provided: Here we assign points to a product based on the categories of functional value that a product and its associated business model provide users and society (e.g., is it an essential good? and if not, does it meaningfully fulfill an important function?).
  • Impact displacement potential: To calculate this metric, we assess whether the product is an enabler of more sustainable behaviour relative to common alternatives (e.g., in the case of a reusable product replacing disposable alternatives).

Our sources for the Purpose score:

  • Academic research, incl. the various interpretations of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs concept
  • Other literature research, incl. “The 30 elements of Consumer Value,” 2016, Harvard Business Review

Putting it all together

Once we have calculated a product’s performance across all these dimensions, we bring them together to generate the final Dayrize Score - a number that ranges from 0 - 100, making it simple to compare a broad variety of products on their sustainability performance. We also publish how well products are doing on all of the different sub-dimensions of the Dayrize Score, so you can easily see the categories in which products excel.

Products must have a Dayrize Score of at least 20 to be listed on Dayrize at all. But, more importantly, just getting a score is not where the journey ends: we actively work with all of our brands to let them know how they can improve the performance of their product.

The methodology behind the Dayrize Score was developed by our good friends at Metabolic, some of the biggest sustainability and circular economy nerds on the planet. We are also getting support from a range of academic institutions and NGOs on the annual review of the Score to ensure we’re keeping up with the latest science. Each year, we will release an updated version of the Dayrize Score, incorporating the newest datasets and methodological improvements. We’re continuously working to improve our sustainability assessment technology so you can get even more accurate insights. Making it easier for us all to compare real impacts - and buy good.


[1] The range of impact comes from the fact that 60-80% of our impact as people comes from our household consumption (REF), of which 40 - 60% of that comes from the consumption of products (REF). So that means the consumption of products contributes 24-48% of our total impact footprint. In addition, it’s important to know that "impact" isn't uniform - there's climate impact, water impact, biodiversity impact, etc. Different types of products contribute to different degrees across these impact categories. Both of these variations contribute to this range.

[2] Worldwater.io