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.