“EcoCheck” app test: a shopping list full of sustainability

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Premium or not premium?

EcoCheck offers to create a user account using an Apple or Google account, but to save data we recommend registering via email. In fact, you can use the app without creating a user account, as long as you don’t want to use the personalized data on another smartphone in the future. The so-called Pro version gains a lot of prominence when used for the first time EcoCheck Applied. It is available annually for €24.99 or for three months for €8.99. A climate-neutral annual subscription, which includes a monthly compensation payment of 2.08 euros to benefit climate protection projects, is available for 49.99 euros. In return, you receive permanent ad-free content, “premium support,” and further technical development of the app. Since we do not notice any reference to marketing content or cookies in the data protection regulations and the application provider excludes the transfer of personal data to third parties EcoCheck At the time of our testing in June 2024, it could also be used without ads, without a subscription. The app is also pleasantly data-efficient in other ways: consent to sending push messages is requested only once after registration; Access to the smartphone camera is recommended for product recognition via barcode scanning, but is not required thanks to an alternative text search. It would be desirable to provide information on data protection and additional information on the use of EcoCheck also available in the app. Currently this is important content only on the provider’s home page available.

A convincing offer

The application was launched in 2023 EcoCheck is venturing into the hotly contested mobile product scanner market as a comparatively young offering for digital climate protection. It is based on the concept and core functions of well-known offerings such as Yuka It is Code verification, but not including drugstore items. Instead, it defines EcoCheck a stronger focus on sustainability aspects and the opportunity to support environmental charitable projects through a monetary donation. These include, for example, the cultivation of climate-resilient mixed forests or biodiverse agriculture through a monetary donation. This value works as so-called CO2 compensation or compensation payment for purchases recorded in the app’s shopping list. This minimum value of 99 cents – which corresponds to 5kg of CO2 emissions – can be transmitted via the payment service provider connected to the smartphone. And that brings us to the core function of the app: checking retail food products for ecological and health aspects.

In our randomized test of around 50 foods, the hit rate was over 80%. This means: only one in five products was not included in the check EcoCheckdatabase found. A very satisfactory result, considering that the data sets stored in the app will probably be expanded in the future. Sustainability and health scores are displayed for each product on a scale of one to ten. These reviews are based on scientific and nutritional guidelines that feed into an algorithm. This calculates a reasonably accurate carbon footprint and health score for the product based on the ingredients and nutritional values. Plus you can clearly see the nutritional values Nutritional Score It is New score of product. The graphs indicate whether a product meets certain climate protection standards, for example, comes from sustainable fishing or does not contain palm oil. The app also nominates alternative products with equivalent or better sustainability and health ratings for each item recorded in the database.

After scanning an item at the supermarket or discount store and placing it in your shopping cart, you check it off and receive an emissions balance for your entire purchase at the end of your shopping trip. EcoCheck It also makes it possible to create multiple shopping lists and share them with other app users using a code. A very practical feature if you want to entrust shopping to your partner or children.

Screenshots of exemplary functions of the EcoCheck app
Product information and alternatives are clearly presented (Fig. 1 and 2). If your emissions exceed 5kg of CO2, you can offset your food purchases with a donation (Fig. 3). If you want to promote app development, you can do so with a paid subscription (Fig. 4.). (Source: screenshots)

Honesty is best

The content has to be different EcoCheck little to blame. Weaknesses can only be recognized in detail upon closer inspection. Positive: The storage tips contained in the app are a useful feature from an economic and climate-friendly point of view, which unfortunately we encounter very rarely in testing apps for sustainable food purchasing. An offer like Seasonal calendar: fruits and vegetables is one of the few exceptions to the rule in this sense, but it cannot compete with the app tested here due to its smaller range of functions. Vice versa can EcoCheck Unfortunately, it can’t keep up with a comprehensive range of advice on the topic of food storage, as the app is limited to a list-like overview of 50 types of fruit and vegetables with storage instructions that are sometimes very monosyllabic.

There are also qualitative limits to the previously mentioned product reviews on sustainability and health factor. The creators of the applications themselves emphasize that the scores awarded should only be seen as an approximate indication of the (added) ecological and health value. The evaluations are based on facts such as nutritional information, the ingredients that can be evaluated more or less critically or the degree of processing, from which a generally positive or negative evaluation and the specific CO2 emissions of the product can be calculated. product. However, the software does not differentiate the origin, transportation routes, and packaging of ingredients or finished commercial products. For example, if tropical fruit preserves were imported by ship or plane; or whether organic yogurt is sold in a plastic cup or reusable glass. Ultimately, the application vendor’s obvious desire for transparency, which itself points to the limits of the resilience of such assessments, also deserves appreciation. At the moment, we regularly come across suppliers who, under the pretext of sustainability, offer applications with dubious ecological added value. for your own economic benefit to offer. There is honesty in us EcoCheck When in doubt, choose it.

Technically weak finish

Unfortunately it is EcoCheck The version we tested (v2.0.23 for iOS) is not as technically convincing as its informative content and useful functions. The app crashed for the first time when customizing the user’s image and could only be used again after a restart – but only with restrictions. From then on, the profile area could no longer be opened. This means that in this test we are no longer able to select individual nutritional preferences, which are also calculated for each product and presented on the familiar ten-point scale. At least that’s the theory. Instead, only a white screen is displayed instead of the user’s profile. Tapping products that were already on the shopping list also caused it to crash repeatedly. Just like scanning new products and trying to add items using the text-based search function. Although it shows EcoCheck After typing the first few letters, several possible hits appear, but selection inevitably causes the app to freeze and restart. Unfortunately, this causes constant frustration.

Conclusion

EcoCheck may be convincing at first glance, as it is one of the few apps that consistently communicates aspects such as climate protection and sustainability in a transparent and binding way and at the same time looks good. However, there would only be substantial added value for shopping-loving and environmentally conscious consumers if the technical stability of the application could keep up with the quality of the concept and content. Until then, we hope the bug will be fixed soon in the form of an update.

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