Tag Archives: carbon footprint

COP 17 – It’s Underway And …..

I had thought I would follow what was happening at Durban online and find some interesting stuff on which to base a post. However, the amount of information is stunning. I downloaded an iPad app which pulls together all the information and found things like a 170 page report on emissions down to the level of dairy cow methane emissions on a country basis. But finding something relevant and interesting is more difficult. Things like President Zuma’s week address ( not like the determined political heros he opened with) and Canada’s threat to resign from Kyoto are in the news and don’t bear repeating here.  

click the image to visit the website 

So I thought this image of a web page might be more interesting. Walkers is a leading United Kingdom (UK) manufacturer of potato crisps retained the Carbon Trust to determine the carbon footprint of their crisps. Carbon Trust is a not for profit organisation set up by the UK government to “led on lows carbon technologies” who claim to save the UK £ 1 million a day.  

They found that a 34,5 g packet of crisps produced 85 g of carbon dioxide. In comparison I found, for a post on bread buying behaviors in France, that a standard baguette produces 292 g of carbon dioxide. A bottle of cola has a carbon footprint of 340 g of carbon dioxide. 

The pictures along the righthand side of the page represent the operations for which the footprint was calculated. Like most foods the footprint for the growing of the raw materials used, is a major part of the footprint in this case 36%. The most obvious excessive cost is packaging which makes up 34% of the co st and is normally significantly lower. The analysis indicates that there is no emission in the household. Many foods have high emissions in the household arising from cold storage and cooking costs as well as the effect of food which is inevitably wasted. 

The effect of food waste on the carbon footprint is an issue that was previously not considered, but which it is now realised is very important. There seems to be a consensus that at least one third of the food produced is not eaten. This is accepted both in affluent societies where the loss is mainly in processing and the household and in developing/subsistence communities where it is mainly in storage and post harvest handling. The carbon footprint of the of the food lost is effectively added directly to the carbon footprint calculated for the food without considering losses.  

Not only is the food lost, but all the inputs to produce the food is lost and must be reflected in the footprint. 

COP 17 – Creates its Own 20 000 ton Footprint

Those attending COPQ 17 are set to produce an extra 15 000 tons of Carbon Dioxide over the duration of the function.  

click the image to visit the website

To put this in some kind of perspective this is about the same size as the carbon footprint of the territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha and equal to around a month of Burundi’s footprint. From another viewpoint it is equivalent to something over 1 minute of China’s annual footprint or about equal to the anual footprint of about 900 US citizens.  

All very confusing, but does it make sense for 25 000 people to travel, which is the major source of emissions, to “the other end of the world” to discuss how to reduce emissions? What would be the carbon footprint as well as the effectivity of doing this by alternate means of communication. PS just for those who might wonder, my very simplistic view of a carbon footprint and why we look at it is:

  • The carbon footprint is a quantitative measure of gasses released into the atmosphere that create a greenhouse effect  
  • The greenhouse effect results in a rise in the atmosphere’s temperature&nbsp
  • A rising atmospheric temperature has many effects including more variable weather, water level rise and changes in farming environment&nbsp
  • These effects are negative for the future of the world
A previous DIGIVU post, reported a clever graphics which presented the carbon footprint of a number of foods in a graphical form. Have a look at this, it’s really informative.

French Bread, Global Warming and Carbon Footprint – Five Months in Bourgogne II

Here is an interesting post, where the writer has satisfied his inquisitiveness about the way the French use bread by doing a short analysis of carbon footprints.

French Bread, Global Warming and Carbon Footprint - The House At Le Gros Chigy  Looking East 1

from: The House at Le Gros Chigy
(click image for full story online)


He finds that its likely that most of those who collect their bread by car, emit more greenhouse gasses on the trip than the baker does in making the bread. The author lives 2,5 km from the nearest bakery and finds that the 75% of his carbon footprint for his morning baguette comes from the drive and only 25% from the bread.

The food processing side lies in the nature of French bread – its mainly eaten fresh (the texture of a baguette, especially the crisp crust and soft interior is lost in a few hours) and it is seldom toasted. It is this that means it has to be collected at least once a day unlike sliced bread which can be refrigerated and used over many days and toasted as it gets older.

Visualising The Effects of Our Actions on Green House Gases

I know I have often threatened to focus somewhat more on the global warming and renewable energy issues but haven’t seemed to get there yet. Maybe because there seems to be so much good inform already available online. If you are interested in getting into this information from an African point of view you could have a look at the news abstracts I post at DIGIVU .

GE Carbon Emission comparator

from: GE Visualisations
(click image for full story online)

The website allows you to select an item and see its carbon footprint as well as that of a number of related products – just as shown in the image above.

The figures presented need to be used cautiously as a carbon footprint is totally dependent on the particular conditions for which it is calculated. Also it depends on the assumptions made in the calculation especially when deciding how far up the production chain to go. For instance the data gives the CO₂ created as zero for washing with cold water but CO₂ is also created in getting the water to the sink, in the production of detergent, in manufacturing the sink, in washing the towel used for drying etc

So don’t take the numbers as absolute but rather as approximations for particular circumstances and indications of relative effects.

Crisps Carbon Footprint

Going back a bit to the environmental issues in food processing. Walker crisps in the UK was the first company to do detail work on one of its products.


Walkers - calculating our emissions.jpg

from: Walkers Crisps
(click image for full story online)


The illustration indicates that the carbon footprint is calculated up to the point where the packet of crisps is on the supermarket shelf.

The carbon footprint determined in 2007 was 85 g C02. Walkers have achieved a 7% reduction in this to 80 g by:

• Switching to 100% British potatoes to lower food miles
• Training drivers to drive in the most fuel efficient way
• Running our delivery trucks on biodiesel containing 5% used
cooking oil
• Reducing gas and electricity consumption by:
– Improving production line efficiencies
– Introducing new technology – such as low energy lighting
– Educating front-line employees to be more energy-aware
• Reducing the weight of packaging

Why is this of interest to you a food processor who’s clients couldn’t care less? Carbon footprint is almost directly linked to energy which you pay for either directly or indirectly – so reducing your footprint saves cost!

Interesting that even in a process with lots of energy for frying, processing is a small input while farming and packaging represent about two thirds of the footprint.


A New Fad in Diets?

We had the low carbohydrate, the low protein and the low calorie diet and the pineapple and drinking man’s diet and many others. Now we have the low Carbon (Footprint) Diet which considers the well being of the world rather than the individual.


Low carbon diet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.jpg

from: Wikipedia
(click image for full story online)


Wikipedia defines it as

making choices about eating that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) as a response to estimates that the U.S. food system is responsible for at least 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases

and identifies the focus areas as

    • selecting low carbon foods
    • reducing animal protein intake
    • evaluating transport energy
    • understanding processing, packaging and loss

While a number of issues like reducing loss, selecting non hot house food, eating local and reducing cooking energy inputs seem to be obvious things to do – there is a lot of debate and an the overall impact needs to always be understood.

There is a calculator that allows one to compare different dishes and meals.


Eat Low Carbon Diet Calculator - Bon Appétit Management Company.jpg

from: Eat Low Carbon
(click image for full story online)