How Long Do Greenhouse Gases Stay In The Atmosphere

How Long Do Greenhouse Gases Stay In The Atmosphere

When figuring out the impact each greenhouse gas can have, it’s important to look at how long each greenhouse gas can stay in the atmosphere.

Some greenhouse gases may be more potent than others, but some may stay around longer than others, and therefore have a longer lasting impact.

In this guide we look at how long each GHG remains in the atmosphere for.

 

Summary – Which Greenhouse Gas Stays In The The Atmosphere The Longest

  • CO2 remains in the atmosphere longer than the other major heat-trapping gases emitted as a result of human activities. 
  • It takes about a decade for methane (CH4) emissions to leave the atmosphere (it converts into CO2) and about a century for nitrous oxide (N2O).
  • After a pulse of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, 40% will remain in the atmosphere for 100 years and 20% will reside for 1000 years, while the final 10% will take 10,000 years to turn over. 

 

Greenhouse Gases That Stay In The Atmosphere The Longest

  • Greenhouse gases are climate drivers
  • By measuring the abundance of heat-trapping gases in ice cores, the atmosphere, and other climate drivers along with models, the IPCC calculated the “radiative forcing” (RF) of each climate driver—in other words, the net increase (or decrease) in the amount of energy reaching Earth’s surface attributable to that climate driver.
  • Positive RF values represent average surface warming and negative values represent average surface cooling. In total, CO2 has the highest positive RF (see Figure 1) of all the human-influenced climate drivers compared by the IPCC.
  • Other gases have more potent heat-trapping ability molecule per molecule than CO2 (e.g. methane), but are simply far less abundant in the atmosphere.
  • CO2 remains in the atmosphere longer than the other major heat-trapping gases emitted as a result of human activities. It takes about a decade for methane (CH4) emissions to leave the atmosphere (it converts into CO2) and about a century for nitrous oxide (N2O).
  • After a pulse of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, 40% will remain in the atmosphere for 100 years and 20% will reside for 1000 years, while the final 10% will take 10,000 years to turn over. This literally means that the heat-trapping emissions we release today from our cars and power plants are setting the climate our children and grandchildren will inherit.

– ucsusa.org

 

Sources

1. https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/CO2-and-global-warming-faq.html#.W855shMzbR1

Which Greenhouse Gas Traps The Most Heat/Is Most Potent?

Which Greenhouse Gas Traps The Most Heat/Is Most Potent?

Different greenhouse gases have different potential for global warming.

Carbon dioxide gets a lot of attention, and rightly so because of the sheer volume of C02 emitted by human activities.

But, there are other greenhouse gases which are much more potent in terms of heating potential – essentially their impact on global warming is much stronger than C02.

In this guide, we look at the warming impact of each gas relative to C02.

 

Summary – Which Greenhouse Gas Traps The Most Heat

  • Global warming potential is a measurement of the relative warming impact of a type of greenhouse gas
  • By far, the greenhouse gas with the highest GWP is SF₆ – sulfur hexafluoride. It has 23,500 times the GWP of carbon dioxide
  • It’s important to note that although Carbon Dioxide has the lowest GWP of the above greenhouse gases, it is emitted in in huge quantities into our atmosphere, and also stays in the atmosphere the longest – which are some of the main reasons it is such an issue.

 

Global Warming Potential Of Different Greenhouse Gases Over A 100 Year Timescale

GWP measures the relative warming impact of one unit mass of a greenhouse gas relative to carbon dioxide.

A GWP₁₀₀ value of 28 therefore means one tonne of methane has 28 times the warming impact of one tonne of carbon dioxide over a 100-year timescale.

The GWP’s of different Greenhouse Gases are:

  • SF₆ – 23,500 [Sulfur Hexafluoride}
  • PFC-14 – 6,630 [Tetrafluoromethane, also known as carbon tetrafluoride]
  • Nitrous oxide (N₂O) – 265
  • HFC-152a – 138 [1,1-Difluoroethane, or DFE]
  • Methane (CH₄) – 28
  • Carbon dioxide (CO₂) – 1

– ourworldindata.org

 

How Do We Use SF₆ /Sulfur Hexafluoride?

  • [we use it] mainly as a test gas in respiratory physiology. Other uses include its injection in vitreoretinal surgery to restore the vitreous chamber and as a tracer in monitoring the dispersion and deposition of air pollutants.

– pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

 

  • … it is used as a gaseous dielectric medium in the electrical industry. Other main uses include an inert gas for the casting of magnesium, and as an inert filling for insulated glazing windows.
  • In Europe, SF
    6
     falls under the F-Gas directive which ban or control its use for several applications

– wikipedia.org

 

Sources

1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions 

2. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Sulfur-hexafluoride

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_hexafluoride

Which Type Of Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most (%, & Volume)

Which Type Of Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most (%, & Volume)

There are different types of greenhouse gases that are emitted by human activities.

Everyone knows about carbon dioxide, but what about the others like methane, nitrous oxide and the F Gases?

In this quick guide, we look at which greenhouse gases are emitted the most by %, and volume.

 

Summary – Which Type Of Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most?

  • There is far more carbon dioxide emitted (in tonnes) that any other greenhouse gas (around 65% comes from fossil fuels and industrial processes)

 

Which Type Of Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most Globally

Globally, the gases by type, in thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, are:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 35.46 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Methane – 8.01 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Nitrous Oxide – 3.15 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • HFC Gases – 834,435.57 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • SF Gases – 174,905.39 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • PFC Gases – 78,622.31 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010

– ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 76% (65% from fossil fuels and industrial processes, and 11% from forestry and other land use)
  • Methane – 16%
  • Nitrous Oxide  – 6%
  • F Gases – 2%

– epa.gov

 

Which Type Of Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most In The United States

In 2016:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 81%
  • Methane – 10%
  • Nitrous Oxide – 6%
  • Fluorinated Gases – 3%

– epa.gov

 

Which Type Of Greenhouse Gas Is Emitted The Most In China

  • In 2016, China emitted 10.2 Giga tonnes of C02 (one gigatonne is equal to one billion tonnes)
  • Methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases collectively account for nearly 20 percent of the country’s total emissions

– chinapower.csis.org

 

Sources

1. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

2. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

3. https://chinapower.csis.org/china-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

Industries/Sectors That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases & Carbon Dioxide

Industries/Sectors That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases & Carbon Dioxide

Some industries emit more greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide than others.

It’s also important to look at industries on a global level, as well as in specific countries.

In this guide we look at a breakdown of emissions globally among the different industries/sectors, but also specifically within the US.

 

Summary – Industries/Sectors That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases

  • Greenhouse gas emissions profiles differ between countries, and on a global level
  • The numbers you see for the US vs Australia for example may be different, and they may be different again for the numbers you see globally
  • Greenhouse gas emissions can be measured in total in terms of CO2 equivalent, or individually in terms of carbon dioxide by itself, or other GHGs individually like methane or nitrous oxide. This is important to note because each type of greenhouse gas stays in the atmosphere for different time periods and can different effects
  • CO2 intensity can also be tracked by sector
  • Globally, the energy sector leads CO2 emissions, followed by the transport sector
  • Globally, the agriculture sector leads methane emissions, followed by the energy sector
  • Globally, agriculture leads nitrous oxide emissions by a significant margin
  • Globally, total greenhouse gas emissions are lead by the energy sector by a large margin (followed by land use sources, transport, and agriculture). By economic sector, electricity and heat production, agriculture (and forestry and other land uses), industry, transportation, other energy and buildings are the top sectors
  • In the US, the transportation, electricity and industry sectors lead total greenhouse gases by a significant margin (agriculture only comes in at 9% of total)
  • Also in the US, the transport sector leads in CO2 intensity (CO2 emissions per energy unit produced)
  • China is the current leader in total CO2 emissions, and you can read about their emissions by sector in this guide

 

Description Of Sectors/Industries That Greenhouse Gas Emissions Come From

Global

  • Energy (energy, manufacturing and construction industries and fugitive emissions): emissions are inclusive of public heat and electricity production; other energy industries; fugitive emissions from solid fuels, oil and gas, manufacturing industries and construction.
  • Transport: domestic aviation, road transportation, rail transportation, domestic navigation, other transportation.
  • International bunkers: international aviation; international navigation/shipping.
  • Residential, commercial, institutional and AFF: Residential and other sectors.
  • Industry (industrial processes and product use): production of minerals, chemicals, metals, pulp/paper/food/drink, halocarbons, refrigeration and air conditioning; aerosols and solvents; semicondutor/electronics manufacture; electrical equipment.
  • Waste: solid waste disposal; wastewater handling; waste incineration; other waste handling.
  • Agriculture: methane and nitrous oxide emissions from enteric fermentation; manure management; rice cultivation; synthetic fertilizers; manure applied to soils; manure left on pasture; crop residues; burning crop residues, savanna and cultivation of organic soils.
  • Land use: emissions from the net conversion of forest; cropland; grassland and burning biomass for agriculture or other uses.
  • Other sources: fossil fuel fires; indirect nitrous oxide from non-agricultural NOx and ammonia; other anthropogenic sources.

– ourworldindata.org

 

United States

A further description of what each sector includes in the US – the transportation, electricity, industry, commercial and residential, agriculture, and land use and forestry – can be found at:

  • https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

 

General

Historically, the industrial sector has had the lowest CO2 intensity, as measured by CO2 emissions per British thermal unit (Btu). The transportation sector historically has had the highest CO2 intensity,

– eia.gov

 

Global C02 Emissions By Sector/Industry

In 2010, Global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, measured in gigagrams of CO₂ per year, by sector, are:

  • Total – 34.42 million
  • Energy – 20.33 million
  • Transport – 5.53 million
  • Residential & Commercial – 3.38 million
  • Agriculture, Land Use & Forestry – 2.62 million
  • Industry – 2.48 million
  • Other Sources – 47,519 thousand
  • Waste – 32,506.6 thousand

– ourworldindata.org

 

Global Methane Emissions By Sector/Industry

In 2008, total global methane (CH₄) emissions by sector, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents (CO₂e) were:

  • Total – 5.98 million
  • Agriculture – 2.84 million
  • Energy – 2.58 million
  • Land Use – 293,021.69 thousand
  • Residential & Commercial – 258,670.43 thousand
  • Industry – 5,290.31 thousand
  • Other Sources – 3,162.6 thousand

– ourworldindata.org

 

Global Nitrous Oxide Emissions By Sector/Industry

In 2010, total global nitrous oxide (N₂O) emissions by sector, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents(CO₂e) were:

  • Total – 3.06 million
  • Agriculture – 2.21 million
  • Other Sources – 216,927.81 thousand
  • Energy – 175,856.12 thousand
  • Industry –  137,911.67 thousand
  • Waste – 119,087.49 thousand
  • Residential & Commercial – 91,159.3 thousand
  • Land Use – 83,443.4 thousand
  • Transport – 15,786.61 thousand
  • International Bunkers – 8,879.86 thousand
  • Forestry – 0

– ourworldindata.org

 

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Sector/Industry

In 2010, the total global greenhouse gas emissions by sector globally, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents (CO₂e), were:

  • Total – 50.58 million
  • Energy – 23.24 million
  • Land Use Sources – 5.54 million
  • Transport – 5.54 million
  • Agriculture – 5.08 million
  • Commercial & Residential – 3.74 million
  • Industry – 3.47 million
  • Waste – 1.45 million
  • Forestry – 1.18 million
  • International Bunkers – 1.08 million
  • Other Sources – 267,609.41 thousand

– ourworldindata.org

 

By Economic Sector (in 2014)

  • Electricity and Heat Production – 25%
  • Agriculture, Forestry & Other Land Use – 24%
  • Industry – 21%
  • Transportation – 14%
  • Other Energy – 10%
  • Buildings – 6%

– epa.gov

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Sector/Industry In The United States (2016)

  • Transportation – 28%
  • Electricity – 28%
  • Industry – 22%
  • Commercial & Residential – 11%
  • Agriculture – 9%
  • Land Use & Forestry – offset of 11%

– epa.gov

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Activity In NSW, Australia, In 2015/16

  • stationary energy sources, such as coal-fired power stations (47 per cent)
  • transport (18 per cent)
  • coal mines (12 per cent)
  • agriculture (11 per cent)
  • land use (7 per cent)
  • land change (3 per cent)
  • waste (2 per cent)

– climatechange.environment.nsw.gov.au

 

Sources

1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

2. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

3. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/aeo2019.pdf

4. https://climatechange.environment.nsw.gov.au/About-climate-change-in-NSW/Causes-of-climate-change

Countries That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases & Carbon Dioxide (Countries With The Largest Carbon Footprints)

Countries That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases & Carbon Dioxide

In this quick list, you can see the countries that emit the most greenhouse gases, and specifically carbon dioxide.

There’s information for cumulative, annual and per capita emissions.

 

Summary – Countries That Emit The Most Greenhouse Gases

  • In terms of cumulative CO2 emissions throughout history, the US leads by an extremely wide margin, ahead of China, Germany, the UK and India
  • China is the current leader of annual CO2 emissions, almost doubling the US emissions. The other countries behind these two are the EU-28, India, Russia and Japan
  • Per capita CO2 emissions features some smaller countries, but the US and Australia feature among the top countries. Most nations across sub-Saharan Africa, South America and South Asia have small per capita emission outputs
  • Countries in Scandinavia, Africa, South East Asia and Europe feature among the countries with the lowest total CO2 emissions

An interesting that shows all the top emitting countries and the main sectors that make up their emissions can be found at https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/04/interactive-chart-explains-worlds-top-10-emitters-and-how-theyve-changed

 

Top Countries For Cumulative C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions since 1751 and up to 2014, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • United States – 376,212.65 (Mt)
  • China – 174,874.89 (Mt)
  • Germany – 86,536.42 (Mt)
  • United Kingdom – 75,237.98 (Mt)
  • India – 41,784.24 (Mt)

– ourworldindata.org

 

Top Countries For Annual C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions per year in 2016, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • China – 10,283.51 (Mt)
  • US – 5,565.49 (Mt)
  • EU-28 – a mix of european countries (Germany features high on the list)
  • India – 2,236.55 (Mt)
  • Russia – 1,669.6 (Mt)
  • Japan – 1266.6 (Mt)

– ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014, the top countries for C02 emissions were:

  • China – 30%
  • Other – 30%
  • United States – 15%
  • EU-28 – 9%
  • India – 7%
  • Russia – 5%
  • Japan – 4%

– epa.gov

 

Top Countries For Per Capita C02 Emissions

The countries with the highest per capita (C02 emissions per person in the population), measured in tonnes per person per year, are:

  • Qatar – 47.83 (tonnes per person per year)
  • Trinidad & Tobago – 30.06
  • Kuwait – 25.81
  • United Arab Emirates – 25.79
  • Bahrain – 24.51
  • Brunei – 23.7
  • Saudi Arabia – 19.66
  • New Caledonia – 18.2
  • Australia – 16.5
  • Luxembourg – 16.47
  • United States –  16.44
  • Most nations across sub-Saharan Africa, South America and South Asia have per capita emissions below five tonnes per year (many have less than 1-2 tonnes)

– ourworldindata.org

 

  1. Qatar
  2. Curacao
  3. Latvia
  4. Bahrain
  5. United Arab Emirates
  6. Trinidad and Tobago
  7. Malaysia
  8. Saudi Arabia
  9. Guatemala
  10. United States

– telegraph.co.uk

 

Countries That Emit The Least C02 Per Capita

  1. Denmark
  2. Finland
  3. Nigeria
  4. Estonia
  5. South Sudan
  6. Myanmar
  7. Tanzania
  8. Zambia
  9. Netherlands
  10. Togo

– telegraph.co.uk

 

Sources

1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

2. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

3. https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/5988/economics/list-of-countries-energy-use-per-capita/

4. https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/6131/economics/list-of-co2-emissions-per-capita/

5. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/mapped-the-countries-that-use-the-most-electricity/

6. https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/04/interactive-chart-explains-worlds-top-10-emitters-and-how-theyve-changed

Carbon Footprints Of Common Everyday Things, Products & Foods

Carbon Footprint Of Common Products & Foods

Everything you do, use or consume has a carbon footprint.

What we’ve done is put together a guide of common everyday things, products and foods.

It should be useful for you to consider in your daily lifestyle for getting an idea of how much carbon emissions you may be responsible for.

(NOTE: many of these footprints are direct carbon emissions. Indirect footprints also contribute to the overall footprint of a thing)

 

Summary – Carbon Footprint Of Everyday Things

Energy

  • Hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear power produced the least CO2 per kilowatt-hour of any other electricity sources, followed closely by solar
  • Coal releases the most at 2.2 pounds, followed by petroleum releasing 2.0 pounds, and natural gas behind that at 0.9 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour
  • But, note that there is a carbon footprint for both the construction, and operation phases, and sometimes the decommissioning stage too. Nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric release no CO2 when they produce electricity (when they are in operation)

 

Transport

  • Emission are usually measured in C02e per mile or kilometre for different types of vehicles. Measurements for emission rates can vary – there can be a standard emissions per distance measurement, or a emissions per distance per passenger (so if you have 4 people in a car compared to 1, that is obviously more efficient as the emissions average out over the 4 people who share the vehicle). Carbon dioxide can also be measured, or C02e which takes into account other greenhouse gases as well.
  • But, there is the operational emissions, as well as the manufacture of the vehicle to consider. Overall, 86% of a regular passenger car’s emissions are from burning fuel (with the remainder from manufacture)
  • Note that the fuel consumption efficiency, type of vehicle, capability of the vehicle and other factors can have an impact on emissions. The same can be said for aircrafts – there are factors that ultimately determine each aircraft’s emission rate
  • Air travel – Short distance flights have a higher C02e per kilometre emission rate than long distance flights
  • Road travel – passenger vehicles have a lower carbon emission rate than trucks, and hybrid electric passenger cars have a lower carbon emission rate than conventional passenger cars (running on gasoline or diesel).
  • A gallon of diesel produces more emissions than a gallon of gasoline by about 10-20%, but diesel tends to have better fuel efficiency overall
  • Rail travel – trains have a 0.116 kg (116 grams) carbon dioxide equivalent emission per passenger kilometre, which is comparative to long distance flights (but less than short distance flights)
  • Sea travel – Average carbon dioxide emissions by ferries per passenger-kilometre seem to be 0.12 kg (120 grams)
  • Cars and light trucks produced around 17% of the total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 – so, should be an area of focus in the transport sector

 

Food

  • Diets high in animal meat, processed food and animal based products like dairy tend to have higher carbon footprints
  • Some meats like chicken tend to have a lower carbon footprint than other meats like beef, lamb, pork (and larger animals)
  • Seafood tends to have a lower carbon footprint than land raised livestock
  • Vegetarian diets tend to have a lower carbon footprint than animal meat and seafood diets
  • Vegan diets tend to have the lowest carbon footprints of them all
  • Having said that, food carbon footprints are highly specific – some vegetables and fruits for example are very water and resource hungry. Additionally, the soil, climate, average rainfall, resources used (fertilizer and pesticides), and the specifics of the place where they are grown and the farmer’s preferences can all play a role.

 

Households

  • Dryers, ovens, fridge/freezers, electric cooktops and big TV’s tend to be the appliances with the biggest carbon footprints in the house on a raw basis (not taking into account how efficiently you are using them, or how long you use them each for)
  • Obviously, switching over to renewable energy for your house helps lower that footprint compared to fossil fuel energy

 

Textiles

  • Cotton has one of the highest carbon dioxide equivalent emissions footprints per kilo of textile

 

Construction Materials

  • In terms of energy used in production in Gigajoules per tonne, Aluminum is the leader by far (about 3 x that of stainless steel), followed by Stainless Steel (about 3 x that of steel), and then steel and glass.

 

* Note that each carbon footprint study can produce different data based on how the study is conducted and the variables involved. General trends and patterns can be observed though across all studies. But, a carbon footprint isn’t a 100% accurate representation of the carbon emissions of a product or service because of factors such as a lack of in depth knowledge of a process, or a lack of in depth data. It’s a guide or indicator.

 

Carbon Footprint Of Energy Generation, & Electricity

Energy generation is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas and carbon emissions (along with transport).

  • Energy Generation – Usually measured in C02e per kilowatt for different methods of energy generation

 

Energy Generation

It’s important to look at  the carbon footprint of various forms of energy generation: nuclear, hydro, coal, gas, solar cell, peat and wind generation technology.

  • Hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear power produced the least CO2 per kilowatt-hour of any other electricity sources.
  • Wind power and solar power, emit no carbon from the operation, but do leave a footprint during construction phase and maintenance during operation. Hydropower from reservoirs also has large footprints from initial removal of vegetation and ongoing methane (stream detritus decays anaerobically to methane in bottom of reservoir, rather than aerobically to CO2 if it had stayed in an unrestricted stream).
Life cycle CO2 equivalent (including albedo effect) from selected electricity supply technologies. Arranged by decreasing median (gCO2eq/kWh) values.
TechnologyMin.MedianMax.
Currently commercially available technologies
Coal – PC740820910
Biomass – Cofiring with coal620740890
Gas – combined cycle410490650
Biomass – Dedicated130230420
Solar PV – Utility scale1848180
Solar PV – rooftop264160
Geothermal6.03879
Concentrated solar power8.82763
Hydropower1.02422001
Wind Offshore8.01235
Nuclear3.712110
Wind Onshore7.01156

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • For each kilowatt hour generated in the U.S., an average of 0.954 pounds of CO2 is released at the power plant.
  • Coal releases 2.2 pounds, petroleum releases 2.0 pounds, and natural gas releases 0.9 pounds.
  • Nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric release no CO2 when they produce electricity, but emissions are released during upstream production activities (e.g., solar cells, nuclear fuels, cement production).

– css.umich.edu

 

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, each energy source over it’s lifetime (from manufacture to disposal) has the following emission footprint (measured in C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated):

  • Nuclear – 4 grammes of CO2 equivalent (gCO2e/kWh)
  • Solar – 6gCO2e/kWh  (6 grammes of CO2 equivalent)
  • Wind – 4gCO2e/kWh
  • Gas – 78gCO2e/kWh
  • Hydro – 97gCO2e/kWh
  • Bioenergy – 98gCO2e/kWh
  • Coal – 109gCO2e/kWh

It’s interesting to note that the global average target for a 2C world in 2050 is 15gCO2e/kWh.

– carbonbrief.org

 

You can see the C02 per kilowatt for different energy generation methods at

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_footprint#The_carbon_footprint_of_energy,
  • and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

 

Carbon Footprint Of Solar Panels

  • It depends, because, you have to account for the manufacture of the solar panel, as well as the running carbon footprint
  • A panel made in China, for example, costs nearly double the greenhouse-gas emissions of one made in Europe
  • It was found that solar panels made today are responsible, on average, for around 20 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of energy they produce over their lifetime (estimated as 30 years, regardless of when a panel was manufactured)
  • That is down from 400-500 grams in 1975
  • As more solar panels are made and technology is improved – they become more efficient

– economist.com

 

  • The best solar technology in the sunniest location has a footprint of 3gCO2/kWh, some seven times lower than the worst solar technology in the worst location (21gCO2/kWh)

– carbonbrief.org

 

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, the carbon footprint for solar over it’s lifetime in terms of C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated will be:

  • Solar – 6gCO2e/kWh  (6 grammes of CO2 equivalent)

NOTE: Factories churning out solar panels use large amounts of electricity, often sourced from coal-fired power stations in China

– carbonbrief.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Wind Turbines

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, the carbon footprint for wind over it’s lifetime in terms of C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated will be:

  • Wind – 4gCO2e/kWh (4 grammes of CO2 equivalent)

NOTE: Wind turbines need a lot of steel and concrete

– carbonbrief.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Nuclear Energy

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, the carbon footprint for nuclear over it’s lifetime in terms of C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated will be:

  • Nuclear – 4gCO2e/kWh (4 grammes of CO2 equivalent)

NOTE: Nuclear plants need a lot of steel and concrete. And the centrifuges that separate nuclear fuel also rack up a big electricity bill.

– carbonbrief.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Gas

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, the carbon footprint for gas over it’s lifetime in terms of C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated will be:

  • Gas – 78gCO2e/kWh

– carbonbrief.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Hydroelectricity

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, the carbon footprint for hydro over it’s lifetime in terms of C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated will be:

  • Hydro – 97gCO2e/kWh

– carbonbrief.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Bioenergy

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, the carbon footprint for bioenergy over it’s lifetime in terms of C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated will be:

  • Bioenergy – 98gCO2e/kWh

– carbonbrief.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Coal

When accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, and also improvements in technology up to the year 2050, the carbon footprint for coal over it’s lifetime in terms of C02e per kilowatt hour of electricity generated will be:

  • Coal – 109gCO2e/kWh

– carbonbrief.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Transport, & Cars

Transport is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas and carbon emissions (along with energy generation).

  • Transport – Usually measured in C02e per mile or kilometre for different types of vehicles
  • Note that the fuel consumption efficiency, type of vehicle, capability of the vehicle and other factors can have an impact

 

For a typical passenger vehicle…

  • Read more at https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle
  • Tailpipe C02 created from burning one gallon of fuel – CO2 Emissions from a gallon of gasoline: 8,887 grams CO2/ gallon, and CO2 Emissions from a gallon of diesel: 10,180 grams CO2/ gallon
  • Tailpipe C02 created from driving one mile – The average passenger vehicle emits about 404 grams of CO2 per mile
  • Average annual C02 emissions of typical passenger vehicle – A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This assumes the average gasoline vehicle on the road today has a fuel economy of about 22.0 miles per gallon and drives around 11,500 miles per year. Every gallon of gasoline burned creates about 8,887 grams of CO2.
  • Other greenhouse gas emissions from a vehicle – In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2), automobiles produce methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)  from the tailpipe and hydrofluorocarbon emissions from leaking air conditioners. The emissions of these gases are small in comparison to CO2; however, the impact of these emissions can be important because they have a higher global warming potential (GWP) than CO2.
  • NOTE: for a typical passenger vehicle, you also have the indirect carbon footprint of making the car itself, and extracting, pumping and transporting to get the oil to refineries and service stations

– epa.gov

 

Flying

  • Carbon per kilometre is…
  • Domestic, short distance, less than 463 km (288 mi): 257 g/km CO2 or 259 g/km (14.7 oz/mile) CO2e
  • Long distance flights: 113 g/km CO2 or 114 g/km (6.5 oz/mile) CO2e

Road

For vehicles, average figures for CO2 emissions per kilometer for road travel for 2013 in Europe, normalized to the NEDC test cycle, are provided by the International Council on Clean Transportation:

  • Newly registered passenger cars: 127 g CO2/km
  • Hybrid-electric vehicles: 92 g CO2/km
  • Light commercial vehicles (LCV): 175 g CO2/km

Average figures for the United States are provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency, based on the EPA Federal Test Procedure, for the following categories:

  • Passenger cars: 200 g CO2/km (322 g/mi)
  • Trucks: 280 g CO2/km (450 g/mi)
  • Combined: 229 g CO2/km (369 g/mi)

Rail

In 2005, the US company Amtrak’s carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per passenger kilometre were 0.116 kg, about twice as high as the UK rail average (where much more of the system is electrified), and about eight times a Finnish electric intercity train.

Sea

Average carbon dioxide emissions by ferries per passenger-kilometre seem to be 0.12 kg (4.2 oz). However, 18-knot ferries between Finland and Sweden produce 0.221 kg (7.8 oz) of CO2, with total emissions equalling a CO2 equivalent of 0.223 kg (7.9 oz), while 24–27-knot ferries between Finland and Estonia produce 0.396 kg (14.0 oz) of CO2 with total emissions equalling a CO2 equivalent of 0.4 kg (14 oz).

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Personal transportation…
  • Cars and light trucks emitted 1.1 billion metric tons CO2e or 17% of the 2016 total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Of the roughly 126,000 pounds of CO2e emitted in a car’s lifetime (assuming 120,000 miles for a 1995 mid-sized sedan), 86% is from burning fuel.
  • Gasoline releases 19.6 pounds of CO2 per gallon when burned, compared to 22.4 pounds per gallon for diesel. However, diesel has 11% more BTU per gallon, which improves its fuel economy.
  • The average passenger car emits 0.78 pounds of CO2 per mile driven
  • In 2016, the average domestic commercial flight emitted 0.39 pounds of CO2e per passenger mile. It is affected by aircraft type, the length of trip, occupancy rates, and passenger and cargo weight
  • On average, trains release 0.31 pounds of CO2e per passenger mile
  • Passenger cars, light duty trucks and medium or heavy duty trucks emit around 83% of transportation greenhouse gases. Commercial aircrafts (7%), rail, ships and boats, motorcycles and buses and other transportation make up the rest

– css.umich.edu

 

  • Every time you buy a new car, you effectively mine 3-7g of “platinum group metals” to coat the catalytic converter. The six elements in the platinum group have the greatest environmental impact of all metals, and producing just one kilo requires the emission of thousands of kilos of CO₂. For metal ores alone, the extraction rate more than doubled between 1980 and 2008. That car also consumes one tonne of steel and you can add to that some aluminium, a whole host of plastics and, in the case of electric cars, rare earth elements.
  • Cars emit greenhouse gases from their exhaust pipe, but to get a full sense of the carbon footprint of a car, you have to consider those emissions that go into producing the raw materials and digging a hole in the ground twice – once to extract the metals contained in the car, once to dump them when they can no longer be recycled.

– theconversation.com

 

  • If you’re commuting 7800 miles each year in your car (based on 30 miles a day for work). And if you drive a car that gets 22 miles to the gallon every weekday, your annual carbon footprint from commuting is 4.3 metric tons
  • California to Boston is about a 5,000-mile round trip, making the carbon footprint from this airplane trip alone 2.23 tons of CO2. Every 1,000 miles you don’t fly saves 0.45 tons of CO2

– livescience.com

 

You can see the C02 per kilometre or mile for different transport methods at

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_transport

 

Carbon Footprint Of An Electric Vehicle, Hybrid Electric Vehicle, Or A Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle

Electric Vehicle (EV)

  • A vehicle that operates exclusively on electricity (an EV) will not emit any tailpipe emissions.
  • Electric vehicles (EVs) have no tailpipe emissions; however, emissions are created during both the production and distribution of the electricity used to fuel the vehicle.

– epa.gov

 

  • the car’s electricity generation process has to be assessed for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
  • you have to look at how many Wh/kilometre or how many Wh/mile the car gets from it’s battery
  • you then have to look at how much carbon is emitted to provide that power (via coal, solar or other electricity)
  • In Singapore, for all electric vehicles, a grid emission factor of 0.5 g CO2/Wh is applied to the electric energy consumption. This is to account for CO2 emissions during the electricity generation process, even if there are no tail-pipe emissions

– channelnewsasia.com

 

Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

  • Calculating tailpipe emissions for PHEVs is more complicated. PHEVs can operate on electricity only, gasoline only, or some combination of electricity and gasoline. A PHEV operating on electricity only (like an EV) does not generate any tailpipe emissions. When a PHEV is operating on gasoline only, it creates tailpipe emissions based on the PHEV’s gasoline fuel economy. Tailpipe emissions for a PHEV operating on both electricity and gasoline cannot be calculated without detailed information about how the PHEV operates. The overall tailpipe emissions for a PHEV can vary significantly based on the PHEV’s battery capacity, how it is driven, and how often it is charged.

– epa.gov

 

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (HFCV)

  • A fuel cell vehicle operating on hydrogen will emit only water vapor.

– epa.gov

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Tesla

It does depend on the type of Tesla you buy, as some Teslas for example can solar charge from their roof for example, and others have better power efficiency or capability.

Technology will also change as Tesla upgrades it, and they bring out newer models.

But, for now…

 

  • When comparing a Tesla’s carbon footprint vs internal combustion vehicles including hybrids….
  • the manufacturing of a full-sized Tesla Model S rear-wheel drive car with an 85 KWH battery was equivalent to a full-sized internal combustion car except for the battery, which added 15% or one metric ton of CO2 emissions to the total manufacturing.
  • this was trivial compared to the emissions avoided due to not burning fossil fuels to move the car
  • Overall, a Tesla has a 53% carbon footprint reduction, even when taking into account the usually coal fuelled electricity a Tesla uses to power the battery
  • Tesla are also able to recycle their batteries into completely reusable materials and substantially reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing Lithium-ion batteries. Unicore are able to recover 70% of the carbon in the end of battery lifecycle

– forbes.com

 

  • Some people have had their Tesla S models independently tested to provide 444 watt hour per kilometre (Wh/km)
  • When applying a 0.5 g CO2/Wh for electric energy consumption, the Tesla S car has carbon emissions of 222g/km

– channelnewsasia.com

 

  • Read more about proving carbon myths about Teslas wrong here – https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/hybrid-electric/news/a27039/tesla-battery-emissions-study-fake-news/

– popularmechanics.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Prius

For US sold models, the grams of C02 per mile from the tailpipe are:

  • Prius 1st gen (NHW11) (2001 to 2003 model) – 217 grams of C02 per mile (135 g/km)
  • Prius 2nd gen (XW20) (2004 to 2009 model) – 193 grams of C02 per mile (120 g/km)
  • Prius 3rd gen (XW30) (2010 to 2012 model) – 178 grams of C02 per mile (111 g/km)
  • Prius v (ZVW41) (2012 model) – 212 grams of C02 per mile (132 g/km)
  • Prius c (NHP10) (2012 model) – 178 grams of C02 per mile (111 g/km)
  • Prius Plug-in Hybrid (ZVW35) (2012 model) – 133 grams of C02 per mile (82 g/km)

You can read about mileage, including in blended, hybrid and all electric modes and ranges at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius#Fourth_generation_(XW50;_2015%E2%80%93present). You can apply a C02 per kilowatt or C02 per Watt hours rate to get an idea of how much of a footprint charging has

More fossil fuel is needed to build hybrid vehicles than conventional cars but reduced emissions when running the vehicle more than outweigh this

– wikipedia.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Food

Average dietary greenhouse-gas emissions per day in 2014 (in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent) were:

  • 7.19 for high meat-eaters
  • 5.63 for medium meat-eaters
  • 4.67 for low meat-eaters
  • 3.91 for fish-eaters
  • 3.81 for vegetarians
  • 2.89 for vegans

– Wikipedia.org

 

The following table shows the greenhouse gas emissions produced by one kilo of each food. It includes all the emissions produced on the farm, in the factory, on the road, in the shop and in your home. It also shows how many miles you need to drive to produce that many greenhouse gases.

Meat, cheese and eggs have the highest carbon footprint. Fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts have much lower carbon footprints:

Rank

FoodCO2 Kilos EquivalentCar Miles Equivalent

1

Lamb

39.2

91

2

Beef

27.0

63

3

Cheese

13.5

31

4

Pork

12.1

28

5

Turkey

10.9

25

6

Chicken

6.9

16

7

Tuna

6.1

14

8

Eggs

4.8

11

9

Potatoes

2.9

7

10

Rice

2.7

6

11

Nuts

2.3

5

12

Beans/tofu

2.0

4.5

13

Vegetables

2.0

4.5

14

Milk

1.9

4

15

Fruit

1.1

2.5

16

Lentils

0.9

2

The greenhouse gas emissions produced by one kilo of some other foods are Farmed Salmon (11.9), Peanut Butter (2.5), Yogurt (2.2) and Broccoli (2.0)

In the report used and cited, they explain the production Life Cycle Analysis for each food type.

– From Greeneatz.com, with figures by the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide and the EPA’s Guide to Passenger Vehicle Emissions.

 

  • Meat products have larger carbon footprints per calorie than grain or vegetable products because of the inefficient transformation of plant energy to animal energy
  • The following foods produce the following amounts of pounds of C02 per serving:
  • Beef – 6.61 (lbs of C02 per serving)
  • Cheese – 2.45
  • Pork – 1.72
  • Poultry – 1.26
  • Eggs – 0.89
  • Milk – 0.72
  • Rice – 0.16
  • Legumes – 0.11
  • Carrots – 0.07
  • Potatoes – 0.03

– css.umich.edu

 

  • making a 1 kg hard cheese generates 12 kg of CO2 (the same amount of CO2 as a car travelling for 6 km)
  • making 12kg of carrots generates 12 kg of CO2

– activesustainability.com

 

  • If you’re eating 444 calories a day of red meat (the equivalent of about one 8-ounce steak sirloin), your annual meat-related carbon footprint is 0.8 metric tonsof carbon dioxide.

– livescience.com

 

  • If you consume a litre of milk a day, that’s 527 kg of carbon emissions per year
  • Large cheeseburger – 2.5kg C02e

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Carbon Footprint Of Different Meats

The C02 per kilogram of different meats is (It includes all the emissions produced on the farm, in the factory, on the road, in the shop and in your home):

  • Lamb – 39.2 (C02 per one kilogram)
  • Beef – 27.0
  • Pork – 12.1
  • Farmed Salmon – 11.9
  • Turkey – 10.9
  • Chicken – 6.9
  • Tuna – 6.1

– Greeneatz.com, with figures by the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide and the EPA’s Guide to Passenger Vehicle Emissions.

 

Carbon Footprint Of Appliances

The following appliances might emit the following amounts of C02 per year (measured in kg of C02 per year):

  • Microwave Oven – 39 (kg C02 per year)
  • Washing Machine – 51
  • Electric Tumble Dryer – 159
  • Kettle – 73
  • Gas Oven – 38
  • Gas Hob – 71
  • Electric Oven – 91
  • Electric Hob – 129
  • Dishwasher at 55°C – 51
  • Dishwasher at 65°C – 84
  • Fridge-Freezer A ++ spec – 89
  • Fridge-Freezer A+ spec – 116
  • Fridge-Freezer A spec – 175
  • Standard Light Bulb – 63
  • Low Energy Light Bulb – 11
  • Primary TV – CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) 34-37 inch, On power 6.5 hours a day – 203
  • Primary TV – CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) 34-37 inch, On standby 17.5 hours a day – 12
  • Primary TV – LCD 34-37 inch, On power 6.5 hours a day – 215
  • Primary TV – LCD 34-37 inch, On standby 17.5 hours a day – 5
  • Primary TV – Plasma 34-37 inch, On power 6.5 hours a day – 269
  • Primary TV – Plasma 34-37 inch, On standby 17.5 hours a day – 10
  • Primary TV – Rear projection 34-37 inch, On power 6.5 hours a day – 196
  • Primary TV – Rear projection 34-37 inch, On standby 17.5 hours a day – 5

– carbonfootprint.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of Households

  • For each kilowatt hour generated in the U.S., an average of 0.954 pounds of CO2 is released at the power plant
  • Coal releases 2.2 pounds, petroleum releases 2.0 pounds, and natural gas releases 0.9 pounds. Nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric release no CO2 when they produce electricity, but emissions are released during upstream production activities (e.g., solar cells, nuclear fuels, cement production).
  • Space heating with wood emits the least CO2e (31.4 tons per million BTU) followed by 64.2 for natural gas, with the highest being 210.5 for electric heaters.
  • Refrigerators are one of the largest users of household appliance energy; in 2015, an average of 726.9 pounds of CO2e per household was due to refrigeration.

– css.umich.edu

 

  • Drying one load of laundry a week puts 0.1 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere
  • The average bedroom lights produce about 0.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually when they are on for two hours a week

– livescience.com

 

  • Using toilet paper made from non recycled toilet paper for 1 year – 75kg C02e

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Dog Or Cat

  • a medium-size dog could have a similar footprint to a large SUV
  • their food is a big contributing factor
  • Meat-based diets for humans and animals alike have much larger ecological footprints than plant-based diets, because it takes lots of land, water and food to feed pigs, cows, sheep, poultry and farmed fish

– dailymail.co.uk

 

  • there are 163 million dogs and cats in the US regularly consuming animal products.
  • US pet cats and dogs account for 64 million tons of nitrous oxide and methane
  • the amount of meat likely to be consumed by America’s pet cats and dogs and found that their overall caloric consumption was roughly 19 per cent of what humans consume
  • Dog and cat animal product consumption is responsible for release of up to 64 ± 16 million tons CO2-equivalent methane and nitrous oxide

– journals.plos.org

 

  • meat-eating by dogs and cats creates the equivalent of about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, which has about the same climate impact as a year’s worth of driving from 13.6 million cars
  • cats and dogs are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States
  • America’s pets produce about 5.1 million tons of feces in a year, as much as 90 million Americans

– newsroom.ucla.edu

 

Carbon Footprint Of Plastic

  • The carbon footprint of plastic (LDPE or PET, poyethylene) is about 6 kg CO2 per kg of plastic

– timeforchange.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Plastic Bag

  • 3 g CO2 emissions for very lightweight plastic bags
  • 10 g CO2 emissions for standard disposable supermarket plastic bag
  • 50 g CO2 heavyweight reusable plastic bag

– greenlivingonline.com

 

  • Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year

– oceancrusaders.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Plastic Water Bottle

  •  one 500-milliliter (0.53 quarts) plastic bottle of water has a total carbon footprint equal to 82.8 grams (about 3 ounces) of carbon dioxide

– sciencing.com

 

  • we consume 563 billion single use plastic water bottles every year

– 1millionwomen.com.au

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Country’s GDP

  • For every item bought or sold there is a rise in GDP, and with each 1% increase in GDP there is a corresponding 0.5 to 0.7% rise in carbon emissions

– theconversation.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of Using A Computer

  • A typical year of receiving emails – 135kg C02e
  • Using a computer every workday from 9 to 6, and at home during weekdays and on weekends for 2 hours (includes electricity, servers, networks) – 1.41 tonnes C02e per year

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Google Search Or Web Search

  • 0.2 g CO2 emissions: Google’s estimate for the energy used at their end
  • 0.7 g CO2 emissions from an efficient laptop
  • 4.5 g CO2 from a power-hungry machine

– greenlivingonline.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of A Mobile Phone, Or Smartphone

  • An iPhone X has a 79 kg CO2e total greenhouse gas emissions. 80% comes from production, 17% from customer use, 2% from transport and 1% from recycling

– images.apple.com

 

  • a mobile phone, just two minutes’ daily use produces 47 kg of CO2 per year and an hour a day could produce the figure of 1,250 kg per year

– activesustainability.com

 

  • Using a mobile phone for 1 hour per day (includes manufacture, and usage emissions) – 1250kg per year

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Carbon Footprint Of Materials

Textiles

In Europe, carbon dioxide equivalent emissions footprints per kilo of textile at the point of purchase by a consumer were:

  • Cotton: 8
  • Nylon: 5.43
  • PET (e.g. synthetic fleece): 5.55
  • Wool: 5.48

Accounting for durability and energy required to wash and dry textile products, synthetic fabrics generally have a substantially lower carbon footprint than natural ones.

But, the precise carbon footprint of different textiles varies considerably according to a wide range of factors

 

General Materials

The carbon emission footprint of different materials like Bricks, Cement, Concrete, Glass, Timber, Plastics, Metals, Minerals and stone, and more – can be found at:

  • http://www.circularecology.com/embodied-energy-and-carbon-footprint-database.html#.W8hPXhMzbR0
  • https://greet.es.anl.gov/

– Wikipedia.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Common Building Materials

The energy used in production for some common building materials is (in Gigajoules per tonne):

  • Aluminum – 270 GJ/t
  • Stainless Steel – 90
  • Steel – 30
  • Glass – 20
  • Portland Cement – 5
  • Timber – 2
  • Bricks – 2
  • Concrete – 1.4
  • Aggregates – 0.25

– nrmca.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Concrete & Cement

  • Concrete has a carbon footprint of about – CO2e: 150kg per tonne
  • The manufacture of cement produces about 0.9 pounds of CO2 for every pound of cement. Since cement is only a fraction of the constituents in concrete, manufacturing a cubic yard of concrete (about 3900 lbs) is responsible for emitting about 400 lbs of CO2
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from a cement plant are divided into two source categories: combustion and calcination. Combustion accounts for approximately 40% and calcination 60% of the total CO2 emissions from a cement manufacturing facility

– greenrationbook.org.uk

 

  • The concrete industry is one of two largest producers of carbon dioxide (CO2), creating up to 5% of worldwide man-made emissions of this gas, of which 50% is from the chemical process and 40% from burning fuel. The carbon dioxide CO2 produced for the manufacture of structural concrete (using ~14% cement) is estimated at 410 kg/m3 (~180 kg/tonne @ density of 2.3 g/cm3) (reduced to 290 kg/m3 with 30% fly ash replacement of cement). The CO2 emission from the concrete production is directly proportional to the cement content used in the concrete mix; 900 kg of CO2 are emitted for the fabrication of every ton of cement, accounting for 88% of the emissions associated with the average concrete mix.
  • One area of the concrete life cycle worth noting is the fact that concrete has a very low embodied energy relative to the quantity that is used. This is primarily the result of the fact that the materials used in concrete construction, such as aggregates, pozzolans, and water, are relatively plentiful and can often be drawn from local sources. This means that transportation only accounts for 7% of the embodied energy of concrete, while the cement production accounts for 70%. With a total embodied energy of 1.69 GJ/tonne concrete is lower than any other building material besides wood.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Concrete compares favorably to other building materials such as steel, wood and asphalt when analyzing energy consumption and CO2 emissions
  • According to the Department of Energy, cement production accounts for 0.33% of energy consumption in the U.S. The current level is low compared with other industries, such as petroleum refining at 6.5%, steel production at 1.8% and wood production at 0.5%
  • According to EPA, between 900 and 1100 kg (1984 and 2425 lbs) of CO2 is emitted for every 1000 kg (2205 lbs) of portland cement produced in the U.S. This depends on the fuel type, raw ingredients used and the energy efficiency of the cement plant
  • According to the most recent survey of Portland Cement Association (PCA) members, an average of 927 kg (2044 lb) of CO2 are emitted for every 1000 kg (2205 lb) of portland cement produced in the U.S.
  • The U.S. cement industry accounts for approximately 1.5% of U.S. CO2 emissions, well below other sources such as heating and cooling our homes (21%), heating and cooling our buildings (19%), driving our cars and trucks (33%) and industrial operations (27%)

– nrmca.org

 

  • the concrete industry is one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide in the world, producing around 5% of man-made carbon emissions. Approximately 88% of the emissions associated with concrete production are due to fabrication and use of cement
  • Companies like CarbonCure are developing technologies for concrete manufacturing companies that will recycle carbon dioxide and use it to make stronger and greener concrete. Not only can this technology reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by up to 15% by 2030, but the improved strength of concrete means that buildings could last longer than the typical 60-80 years reducing the turnover rate

– giatecscientific.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of Steel

  • The greenhouse gas of most relevance to the world steel industry is carbon dioxide (CO2). On average, 1.9 tonnes of CO2 are emitted for every tonne of steel produced. According to the International Energy Agency, the iron and steel industry accounts for approximately 6.7% of total world CO2 emissions.
  • Efficiency with steel production is on the rise though – In the last 50 years, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption per tonne of steel produced by 60%

– worldsteel.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Clothes Shopping

  • Spending $100 of clothes each month will set you back 0.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Throw in a $1,000 furniture purchase once a year and you’re up to almost a ton.

– livescience.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of Divorced Families

  • Divorced households used an extra 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity compared with married households. The boost in carbon output had to do with the additional homes needed to house the now-separated couples. There were about 16 million divorced households in 2000, which comes to 4,562.5 extra kilowatt-hours of electricity per household. Break that down into carbon emissions and you get an extra 2.8 metric tons per year per household

– livescience.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of Having One Extra Child

  • Having a baby will set you back 9,441 metric tons of CO2 over your lifetime

– livescience.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of One Soccer World Cup

  • The 2010 South Africa World Cup produced 2.8 million tonnes C02e for one month (included includes transportation of international and local players and spectators, energy used to run the stadiam, precinct and visitors’ accommodation, and the emissions from construction and material, but NOT those watching on TV)

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Carbon Footprint Of Running On A Treadmill

  • Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week will boost your carbon footprint by 0.07 metric tons per year

– livescience.com

 

Carbon Footprint Of Staying In A Hotel

  • Two nights in a standard high carbon use hotel – 120kg C02e

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Carbon Footprint Of Hand Dryer vs Paper Hand Towels

  • 3 g CO2 emissions drying with the Dyson Airblade
  • 10 g CO2 emissions for one paper towel
  • 20 g CO2 emissions for standard electric dryer

– greenlivingonline.com

 

Other Carbon Footprints

  • The Guardian has a series of articles called ‘What’s The Carbon Footprint Of…’. Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/series/the-carbon-footprint-of-everything

– theguardian.com

 

  • The four largest generators of CO2 in the U.S. are: Heating and cooling homes (21%), Heating and cooling buildings (18%), Driving cars and trucks (33%), and Industrial operations (28%).

– nrmca.org

 

What Is A Carbon Footprint

For more information on what a carbon footprint is, and how you can use it, you can read this guide.

 

Sources

1. http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html

2. https://www.activesustainability.com/sustainable-life/the-carbon-footprint-of-everyday-objects/

3. http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/methodology_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf

4. http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet

5. https://images.apple.com/environment/pdf/products/iphone/iPhone_X_PER_sept2017.pdf

6. https://theconversation.com/the-hidden-carbon-cost-of-everyday-products-96745

7. https://www.livescience.com/13835-carbon-footprint-daily-activities.html

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_footprint

9. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/energyconsumption.html

10. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2010/jun/04/carbon-footprint-definition

11. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/series/the-carbon-footprint-of-everything

12. https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/uncovering-the-carbon-footprint-of-everything

13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_transport

15. https://www.opb.org/news/blog/ecotrope/the-carbon-footprint-of-everything/

16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_footprint#The_carbon_footprint_of_energy

17. https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle

18. https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2016/12/10/how-clean-is-solar-power

19. https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-wind-nuclear-amazingly-low-carbon-footprints

20. https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/04/22/the-carbon-footprint-of-tesla-manufacturing/#1c0ad4a56096

21. https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/hybrid-electric/news/a27039/tesla-battery-emissions-study-fake-news/

22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius#Fourth_generation_(XW50;_2015%E2%80%93present)

23. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lta-on-tesla-co2-emissions-for-electric-cars-start-at-power-grid-8134258

24. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/the-truth-about-cats-and-dogs-environmental-impact

25. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181301

26. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4331978/A-medium-sized-dog-carbon-footprint-SUV.html

27. http://oceancrusaders.org/plastic-crusades/plastic-statistics/

28. https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/why-quitting-plastic-will-help-stop-climate-change/

29. https://sciencing.com/carbon-footprint-plastic-bottle-12307187.html

30. https://timeforchange.org/plastic-bags-and-plastic-bottles-CO2-emissions

31. http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/reduce-your-carbon-footprint

32. https://www.worldsteel.org/publications/position-papers/steel-s-contribution-to-a-low-carbon-future.html

33. https://www.giatecscientific.com/education/concrete-carbon-footprint/

34. http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk/resources/footprints-concrete/

35. https://www.nrmca.org/sustainability/CONCRETE%20CO2%20FACT%20SHEET%20FEB%202012.pdf

36. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_concrete

What Is A Carbon Footprint?

What Is A Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint can apply to anything – food, a product, a service, an activity, an individual, a household, a business, or even a country.

In this guide, we outline what a carbon footprint is, how it’s measured, how it might be used, and how it is increased and reduced.

 

Summary – Carbon Footprints

Carbon footprints are essentially the total quantity of greenhouse gases emitted (direct and indirect), in sourcing, making, transporting, buying, using/consuming and disposing of that thing – expressed as C02e (carbon equivalent).

For example, a gasoline car while in operation will emit greenhouse gases, but there is also greenhouse gases that were emitted in the manufacturing process of that car. These are the direct and indirect emissions to consider with each product or service we use.

With cars in particular, we can measure C02e per kilometer or mile, but also per passenger (as ride sharing or public transport can be more efficient). So, there’s different ways to measure carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint can also be measured as a single greenhouse gas though too e.g. carbon dioxide footprint, methane footprint, nitrous oxide footprint. But, carbon dioxide is the main gas that most researchers and people are concerned about, so this is the one that is usually expressed

It helps us to get an idea of how thing affects the environment – specifically with greenhouse gas emissions and climate change/global warming.

What should be noted is that carbon footprints aren’t an exact science. The total carbon footprint cannot be exactly calculated for a lot of products and services because of inadequate knowledge, and data about the complex interactions between contributing processes, especially which including the influence on natural processes storing or releasing carbon dioxide. So, it’s more a guide or an indicator of what we might focus on to improve in regards to emissions, than a 100% exact measurement.

 

What’s A Carbon Footprint?

  • A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent.
  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be emitted through land clearance and the production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services. For simplicity of reporting, it is often expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted
  • Mobility (driving, flying & small amount from public transit), shelter (electricity, heating, construction) and food are the most important consumption categories determining the carbon footprint of a person
  • The carbon Footprint is one part of the ecological footprint, along with other footprints like a water footprint or a land footprint

– wikipedia.org

 

  • A product carbon footprint is the total sum of all greenhouse gas emissions which are produced in the specified system boundaries of the product or service.
  • A carbon footprint is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) allows the different greenhouse gases to be compared on a like-for-like basis relative to one unit of CO2. CO2e is calculated by multiplying the emissions of each of the six greenhouse gases by its 100 year global warming potential (GWP).
  • A carbon footprint considers all six of the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases: Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

– carbontrust.com

 

  • A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product.
  • It is calculated by summing the emissions resulting from every stage of a product or service’s lifetime (material production, manufacturing, use phase, and end-of-life disposal).
  • Throughout a product’s lifetime, or lifecycle, different greenhouse gases (GHGs) may be emitted, such as methane and nitrous oxide, each with a greater or lesser ability to trap heat in the atmosphere.
  • These differences are accounted for by calculating the global warming potential (GWP) of each gas in units of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), giving carbon footprints a single unit for easy comparison

– css.umich.edu

 

  • For food, it is measured from farm to plate – the entire food production process has a carbon footprint.
  • Growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing of the food – all has a carbon footprint
  • Transport, housing and food have the three largest carbon footprints at a household level

– greeneatz.com

 

  • For food specifically…
  • The footprint is from the production and application of fertilizers, pesticides and other materials used to grow crops through to the processing, transportation and disposal of unused food at the retail, institutional and household level

– static.ewg.org

 

  • The term carbon footprint, therefore, is a shorthand to describe the best estimate that we can get of the full climate change impact of something. That something could be anything – an activity, an item, a lifestyle, a company, a country or even the whole world.
  • This includes the direct, as well as the indirect footprint
  • As an example, the true carbon footprint of driving a car includes not only the emissions that come out of the exhaust pipe (direct), but also all the emissions (indirect) that take place when oil is extracted, shipped, refined into fuel and transported to the petrol station, not to mention the substantial emissions caused by producing and maintaining the car.

– theguardian.com

 

  • There’s a carbon footprint in everything: Spending money, drinking beer, sending e-mail, building a house, drying your hands, doing the dishes, drinking tea vs. coffee, a volcano, a mortgage, the Iraq war, the Internet … the list goes on.
  • When talking about climate change, footprint is a metaphor for the total impact that something has. And carbon is a shorthand for all the different greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming
  • The term carbon footprint, therefore, is a shorthand to describe the best estimate that we can get of the full climate change impact of something. That something could be anything – an activity, an item, a lifestyle, a company, a country or even the whole world.

– opb.org

 

What’s Makes Up A Carbon Footprint?

Essentially, direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions.

But, when you look at stats on what the carbon footprint of a thing includes, you have to look to the actual report by whoever is proving the information, of what data was included and excluded from the final numbers.

For example, the EWG and Cleanmetrics report we mention in the sources of this guide outline what was included and excluded in their data for their life cycle assessment (LCA) of the carbon footprints they provide.

The data they did and didn’t include for the carbon footprint of different foods was…

LCAs included GHG emissions associated with the following processes:

  • Production and transport of “inputs,” the materials used to grow crops or feed animals (fertilizers, pesticides and seed for crop production; feeds for animal production)
  • On-farm generation of GHG emissions (e.g., the enteric fermentation digestive process of cows, sheep and other ruminants; manure management; soil emissions from fertilizer application; etc.)
  • On-farm energy use (fuel and electricity, including energy used for irrigation)
  • Transportation of animals and harvested crops
  • Processing (slaughter, packaging and freezing)
  • Refrigeration (retail and transportation)
  • Cooking
  • Retail and consumer waste (waste before and after cooking, including served but uneaten food that is thrown away)

Due to lack of data, the LCAs did not consider the following processes related to food production:

  • Consumer transport to and from retail outlets
  • Home storage of food products
  • Production of capital goods and infrastructure (typically excluded from most LCAs and is currently excluded from standards such as PAS 2050)
  • Energy required for water use in growing livestock feed (irrigation is included for alfalfa but not for corn and soybeans)

– static.ewg.org

 

  • A carbon footprint of food includes…
  • Production Emissions – emissions before the food or product leaves the production stage e.g. before food leaves a farm, or before a good leaves a factory.
  • Post Production Emissions – emissions after food or product leaves production stage. e.g. for food – processing, transport, retail cooking, waste disposal.

– static.ewg.org

 

  • The key way to determine a carbon footprint is to look at the materials used to make the item. For example, a juice carton is made of an aseptic carton, a beer can is made of aluminum, and some water bottles either made of glass or plastic. The larger the size, the larger the footprint will be.

– wikipedia.org

 

Other Types Of Carbon Footprint

There’s not only carbon footprints of products and foods, but also for activities, individuals, households, businesses, industries, cities, states/provinces and entire countries.

 

Individuals and Households

You can use the calculators online or the ones listed at the bottom of this guide for help in calculating yours or your family’s carbon footprint.

Make sure to see whether they include for indirect emissions too – not just direct.

 

Businesses and Organisations

The different types are:

Organisational

  • Emissions from all the activities across an organisation, including buildings’ energy use, industrial processes and company vehicles.

Value chain 

  • Includes emissions which are outside an organisation’s own operations (also known as Scope 3 emissions).  This represents emissions from both suppliers and consumers, including all use and end of life emissions.

Product

  • Emissions over the whole life of a product or service, from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing right through to its use and final reuse, recycling or disposal.

Supply chain

  • Emissions from the raw materials and services that are purchased by an organisation in order to deliver its service(s) and/or product(s).

– carbontrust.com

 

How To Calculate A Carbon Footprint

  • Do a LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) – read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_assessment. This is the best way of trying to estimate direct and indirect emissions
  • Carbon Accounting – can be a personalised or custom accounting of carbon emissions
  • Use Online Carbon Calculators (a shortcoming of these calculators though is that some of them only calculate direct emissions and not indirect) – google carbon calculators for individuals, households, businesses, farmers etc.

 

What Should A Person’s Carbon Footprint Target Be?

Assuming a global population around 9-10 billion by 2050, a carbon footprint of about 2 – 2.5 tons CO2e per capita (per person) is needed to stay within a 2 °C target (set by the Paris Agreement)

– wikipedia.org

 

Greenhouse Gases, And Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Not all greenhouse gases have the same global warming potential. Some are more hazardous to the environment than others.

As an example, the EWG and Cleanmetrics report we mention in the sources of this guide list GWP of different GHGs as:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) (GWP of 1)
  • Nitrous oxide (N20) (GWP of 298)
  • Methane (CH4) (GWP of 25)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (specifically the refrigerant HFC-134a, with a GWP of 1,430).

What you can see is that methane has 25 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide.

Quantity does matter though. The sheer volume of carbon dioxide emitted from most tasks is usually so much that C02 becomes more of a problem than other GHGs when it is all added up.

 

Direct vs Indirect Carbon & Greenhouse Gases In A Carbon Footprint

  • Most of the carbon footprint emissions for the average U.S. household come from “indirect” sources, e.g. fuel burned to produce goods far away from the final consumer. These are distinguished from emissions which come from burning fuel directly in one’s car or stove, commonly referred to as “direct” sources of the consumer’s carbon footprint.

– wikipedia.org

 

Direct Carbon Emissions

Two of the biggest forms of direct carbon emissions are energy generation (when you use electricity or burn gas), and transport (when you drive your car).

So, we will take a look at these.

Emissions per kilowatt of electricity are the measurement for energy generation, whilst emissions per mile or kilometre are the measurement for transport.

 

Energy Generation

You can see the carbon produced per kilowatt hour for different energy generation methods here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

Otherwise, some further information on energy generation and carbon emissions can be found in this guide about the carbon footprints of everyday things.

 

Transport

You can see the C02 per kilometre or mile for different transport methods at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_transport

Otherwise, some other information on transport and emissions can be found in this guide about the carbon footprints of everyday things.

 

Indirect Carbon Emissions (carbon footprint of products and food etc.)

When you buy a product, or buy food, there are indirect carbon emissions that you don’t see, that went into sourcing, growing, making, processing, transporting/shipping etc.

For food for example, these can occur on the farm and during food transport.

For a car for example, these can occur in the raw material extraction, material manufacture, car manufacture, shipping of the car itself. You then also have produce and distribute the fuel used to power your vehicle which also creates greenhouse gases. Gasoline, for example, requires extracting oil from the ground, transporting it to a refinery, refining the oil into gasoline, and transporting the gasoline to service stations.

There’s also disposal, recycling or waste emissions.

 

  • Several organizations have calculated entire carbon footprints of products – direct and indirect
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency has addressed paper, plastic (candy wrappers), glass, cans, computers, carpet and tires.
  • Australia has addressed lumber and other building materials.
  • Academics in Australia, Korea and the US have addressed paved roads.
  • Companies, nonprofits and academics have addressed mailing letters and packages.
  • Carnegie Mellon, Sweden and the Carbon Trust have addressed foods at home and in restaurants.
  • The Carbon Trust has worked with UK manufacturers on foods, shirts and detergents, introducing a CO2 label in March 2007
  • As of August 2012 The Carbon Trust state they have measured 27,000 certifiable product carbon footprints. – https://www.carbontrust.com/media/482025/product-carbon-footprint-certification.pdf

– wikipedia.org

 

Limitations & Problems With Using A Carbon Footprint

In most cases, the total carbon footprint cannot be exactly calculated because of inadequate knowledge of and data about the complex interactions between contributing processes, especially which including the influence on natural processes storing or releasing carbon dioxide. For this reason, Wright, Kemp, and Williams, have suggested to define the carbon footprint as:

A measure of the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions of a defined population, system or activity, considering all relevant sources, sinks and storage within the spatial and temporal boundary of the population, system or activity of interest. Calculated as carbon dioxide equivalent using the relevant 100-year global warming potential(GWP100).

– wikipedia.org

 

If you take food as an example:

  • Predicting GHG emissions with absolute certainty is difficult. Actual GHG emissions associated with a given product will vary depending on: 1) the extent to which best practices are implemented along the entire supply chain; and 2) differences in input data as a result of regional and/or production system differences for a for a given meat/crop production system. There are also uncertainties associated with IPCC emission factors.
  • Uncertainties arise from the variability of activity data used to model specific production systems as well as assumptions related to background processes. For example, the specific input data used for modelling beef production systems could be different in Idaho and Nebraska than in Kansas, or the length of time in the feedlot might vary. Similarly, there may be differences in inputs and transportation distances between one production system and another.

A carbon footprint might be better used to give a general sense of the magnitude of GHGs associated with a particular product or activity, as opposed to providing a specific and absolutely certain number.

– static.ewg.org

 

Again with food…

  • In general, there is significant variability and uncertainty with respect to greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural systems
  • Actual emissions may vary considerably depending on particular conditions, compared to estimates

– static.ewg.org

 

  • A recent study’s results by Carnegie Mellon’s Christopher Weber found that the calculation of carbon footprints for products is often filled with large uncertainties. The variables of owning electronic goods such as the production, shipment, and previous technology used to make that product, can make it difficult to create an accurate carbon footprint

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • The dilemma (in measuring a carbon footprint) is that it is also impossible to pin down accurately. We don’t stand a hope of being able to understand how the impact of our bananas compares with the impact of all the other things we might buy instead unless we have some way of taking into account the farming, the transport, the storage and the processes that feed into those stages.
  • Do the best job you can, despite the difficulties, of understanding the whole picture…. make the most realistic estimates that are possible and practical, and be honest about uncertainty [in estimations and stats].

– theguardian.com

 

What Is Increasing Our Carbon Footprint?

Food

  • Meat, Dairy Products, & Poultry, Fish, Seafood and Eggs are all responsible for a large majority of the greenhouse gases we produce from the average food consumption (which can also be attributed to the possibility these food groups make up most of what the average person eats)
  • Vegetables, fruits, grain products, sugars, sweeteners, oil, fats, and other food groups make up less than 20% of the average food consumption’s greenhouse gases

Household

  • For each kilowatt hour generated in the U.S., an average of 0.954 pounds of CO2 is released at the power plant. Coal releases 2.2 pounds, petroleum releases 2.0 pounds, and natural gas releases 0.9 pounds. Nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric release no CO2 when they produce electricity, but emissions are released during upstream production activities (e.g., solar cells, nuclear fuels, cement production).
  • Space heating with wood emits the least CO2e (31.4 tons per million BTU) followed by 64.2 for natural gas, with the highest being 210.5 for electric heaters.
  • Refrigerators are one of the largest users of household appliance energy; in 2015, an average of 726.9 pounds of CO2e per household was due to refrigeration

Personal Transportation

Passenger cars and trucks make up about 17% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the US (as of 2016). So, they are a major emitter in the transport sector.

Apart from that:

  • Of the roughly 126,000 pounds of CO2e emitted in a car’s lifetime (assuming 120,000 miles for a 1995 mid-sized sedan), 86% is from burning fuel.
  • Gasoline releases 19.6 pounds of CO2 per gallon when burned, compared to 22.4 pounds per gallon for diesel. However, diesel has 11% more BTU per gallon, which improves its fuel economy.

– css.umich.edu

 

Reducing Carbon Footprints, & Offsetting

Food

  • Eating all locally grown food for one year could save the GHG equivalent of driving 1,000 miles, while eating a vegetarian meal one day a week could save the equivalent of driving 1,160 miles
  • A vegetarian diet greatly reduces an individual’s carbon footprint, but switching to less carbon intensive meats can have a major impact as well. For example, replacing all beef consumption with chicken for one year leads to an annual carbon footprint reduction of 882 pounds CO2e.
  • Organic food typically requires 30-50% less energy during production but requires one-third more hours of human labor compared to typical farming practices, making it more expensive

Household

  • Washing clothes on ‘cold’ reduces CO2 emissions by 1.2-14.9 pounds per laundry load, depending on washing machine type, hot water temperature, and electricity source.

Personal Transportation

  • Better fuel economy
  • Driving less total miles
  • Automobile fuel economy can improve 7-14% by simply observing the speed limit. Every 5 mph increase in vehicle speed over 50 mph is equivalent to paying an extra $0.20-$0.40 per gallon

In General

  • Eat local, vegetarian, or organic foods. For non-vegetarians, replace some beef consumption with chicken.
  • Walk, bike, carpool, use mass transit, or drive a best-in-class vehicle.
  • Smaller homes use less energy. Average household energy use is highest in houses (82.3 million BTU), followed by mobile homes (59.8 million BTU), apartments with 2-4 units (53.5 million BTU), and apartments with 5+ units in the building (34.2 million BTU).
  • Using a low-flow shower head can save 350 pounds of CO2e per year. Setting the temperature to 120°F can help improve a hot water heater’s efficiency.
  • Turn off your TV, computer, and other electronics when not in use to reduce your carbon footprint by thousands of pounds of CO2e each year. Unplug unused electronics to further reduce your footprint.
  • Choose energy-efficient lighting. If every home in the U.S. replaced their 5 most used light bulbs with Energy Star bulbs, the reduction in carbon emissions would be equivalent to removing 10 million cars from the road.
  • Recycling half a household’s waste can save 2,400 pounds of CO2 per year. Buying products with minimal packaging also helps reduce waste. For every 10% of waste reduction, 1,200 pounds of CO2e are avoided.
  • Shop smart and purchase items with a comparatively low carbon footprint when possible. Some manufacturers have begun assessing and publishing their products’ carbon footprints.
  • Replacing 80% of conditioned roof area on commercial buildings in the U.S. with solar reflective material would offset 125 mmt CO2 over the structures’ lifetime, equivalent to turning off 31 coal power plants for one year.
  • Replacing the global fleet of shipping containers’ roof and wall panels with aluminum would save $28 billion in fuel.

– css.umich.edu

 

In agriculture…

  • Best-management agricultural practices might result in lower emissions. These can include…
  • Overall efficiency of the agricultural operation – getting greater yields per input, as long that doesn’t coincide with a greater increase in total inputs such as fertilizer
  • Nutritional quality and digestibility of feed – higher quality diets (like corn and soy) result in lower methane emissions compared to lower quality, higher-fiber diets consisting of grass and hay
  • Manure Management Practices – Solid manure storage will have lower methane emissions than open pit or liquid manure systems; ensuring that manure is then spread on fields in an efficient manner
  • Grazing Practices – Intensive grazing (whereby animals are regularly moved to fresh pasture to maximize the quality and quantity of forage growth) generates fewer GHGs than the more common practice of extensive grazing. The use of soil amendments could also be good
  • Soil Management Practices – cover cropping and composting, result in lower emissions by building soil organic carbon. At the same time, reducing fertilizer use for growing feed (especially corn) could result in decreases in energy use from fertilizer production as well as decreases in nitrous oxide emissions
  • Freezing – consuming fresh rather than frozen beef reduces its GHG emissions by less than 3 percent
  • Cooking – decreasing the length of cooking, and cooking with an energy efficient method, or not cooking at all (in the case of vegetables)
  • Waste – reducing overall food waste over the supply chain process. Also, composting instead of landfill disposal

– static.ewg.org

 

  • Replacing cars only when we need to, and not because of personal taste
  • Replacing electronics like smartphones only when we need to, and not because of personal taste
  • To stop rich nations leaving some of their carbon footprint in poorer less developed countries – richer nations must start implementing sustainable material strategies that address a product’s entire lifecycle from mining to manufacturing, use, and eventually to disposal. They must consider the well being of the people and environment in the countries they are importing from
  • Consumers can also vote with their dollars and buy from more ethical and sustainable countries

– theconversation.com

 

  • Carpooling vehicles
  • Try switching things up with poultry, eggs, or even better, vegetables.
  • Take shorter flights and shorter trips in the car
  • Hang clothes outside instead of putting them through the dryer
  • Workout and run outside instead of using a treadmill
  • Stay married – divorced household need two houses to support separate parents
  • Have less kids

– livescience.com

 

  • Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it, e.g. by technological developments, better process and product management, changed Green Public or Private Procurement (GPP), carbon capture, consumption strategies, carbon offsetting and others.
  • Reduce or become more efficient or better with your use choices of diet, transportation choices, home size, shopping and recreational activities, usage of electricity, heating, and heavy appliances such as dryers and refrigerators, and so on
  • Carbon Footprints can be reduced through the development of alternative projects, such as solar and wind energy, which are environment friendly, renewable resources, or reforestation, the restocking of existing forests or woodlands that have previously been depleted. These examples are known as Carbon Offsetting, the counteracting of carbon dioxide emissions with an equivalent reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • The main influences on carbon footprints include population, economic output, and energy and carbon intensity of the economy. These factors are the main targets of individuals and businesses in order to decrease carbon footprints. Production creates a large carbon footprint, scholars suggest that decreasing the amount of energy needed for production would be one of the most effective ways to decrease a carbon footprint. This is due to the fact that Electricity is responsible for roughly 37% of Carbon Dioxide emissions. Coal production has been refined to greatly reduce carbon emissions; since the 1980s, the amount of energy used to produce a ton of steel has decreased by 50%.

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • The carbon footprint of U.S. households is about 5 times greater than the global average. For most U.S. households the single most important action to reduce their carbon footprint is driving less or switching to a more efficient vehicle.

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • Carbon offsets can be purchased for the burning of fossil fuels, like natural gas, crude oil and coal
  • Countries can follow protocols and treaties
  • Mandatory things countries might do are Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation, and Emissions Trading
  • Voluntary things a country might do with businesses, non profits, project developers, wholesalers, brokers, and retailers, as well as carbon funds are avoided deforestation, afforestation/reforestation, industrial gas sequestration, increased energy efficiency, fuel switching, methane capture from coal plants and livestock, and even renewable energy

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • The most common way to reduce the carbon footprint of humans is to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse (refer to the waste hierarchy)
  • This can be done in manufacturing, at household level, in transport, in heating and cooling, in food consumption, and carbon offsetting
  • A July 2017 study published in Environmental Research Letters argued that the most significant way individuals could mitigate their own carbon footprint is to have fewer children, followed by living without a vehicle, forgoing air travel and adopting a plant-based diet.

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • For individuals…

General

  1. Hang out the washing instead of tumble drying

Hanging the washing out instead of using the tumble drier will save about 153kg CO2 a year – that’s £52 (USD68) each year, based on 150 cycles a year.

  1. Turn down the heating by 1⁰C

Reducing your heating by 1⁰C can reduce your energy consumption by 8%. For an average household gas bill of 12,500kWh this will reduce your COemissions by 184kg – that’s £42 (USD55) each year.

  1. Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need to boil

Only boiling the amount of water for your hot drink will save 72kg CO2 a year – that’s £23 (USD30) per annum

  1. Spend less time in the shower

Spending 1 minute less in the shower can save 23kg CO2 and £8 (USD10) a year (based on one shower a day and a 9kW shower).

  1. Turn electrical equipment off when not in use

Fully turning off just one LCD TV (rather than leaving it on standby) for 18 hours a day will save about 5kg CO2 a year – saving £2 a year (USD2.64). Turn off all other electrical equipment when not in use to multiply the savings.

….Total Potential savings are 437kg CO2 and £127 each year

Technology Based 

  • Fit energy saving light bulbs – LEDs can save 90% of lighting energy costs
  • Install thermostatic valves on your radiators
  • Insulate your hot water tank
  • Install cavity wall installation
  • Install 180mm thick loft insulation
  • Replace your old refrigerator / freezer (if it is over 15 years old), with a new one with energy efficiency rating of “A++”
  • Replace your old boiler with a new energy efficient condensing boiler

Travel

  • Car share to work or for the kids school run
  • Use the bus or a train rather than your car
  • For short journeys; walk or cycle
  • Try to reduce the number of flights you take
  • See if your employer will allow you to work from home one day a week
  • Next time you replace your car – make sure you choose a low emission vehicle. If you have the budget, consider getting a hybrid or full electric car.
  • When staying in a hotel – turn the lights and air-conditioning off when you leave your hotel room, and ask for your room towels to be washed every other day, rather than every day
  • Electric vehicles

Secondary Emissions

  • Don’t buy bottled water if your tap water is safe to drink
  • Buy local fruit and vegetables, or even try growing your own
  • Buy foods that are in season locally
  • Don’t buy fresh fruit and vegetables which are out of season, they may have been flown in
  • Reduce your consumption of meat
  • Try to only buy products made close to home (look out and avoid items that are made in the distant lands)
  • Buy organic produce
  • Don’t buy over packaged products
  • Recycle as much as possible
  • Think carefully about the type of activities you do in your spare time. Do any of these cause an increase in carbon emissions? e.g. Saunas, Health clubs, restaurants and pubs, go-karting etc. etc…

Offset your emissions

Limit waste of plastic and other trash. Refuse, reduce, re-use and recycle. Read more at https://www.carbonfootprint.com/plastic_waste.html

– carbonfootprint.com

 

  • For businesses…
  • Energy and carbon footprint audits by professional
  • Improved insulation
  • Switching off power when not needed
  • Timers
  • Renewable energy
  • Power and lighting controls
  • Building management systems
  • Natural ventilation
  • High efficiency lighting and power devices
  • Behavioral changes

– carbonfootprint.com

 

  • Offsetting…
  • Carbon offsetting projects and funding can be found at https://www.carbonfootprint.com/carbonoffset.html

– carbonfootprint.com

 

Transport

  • Drive a more fuel efficient car
  • Take less, and shorter duration flights

Diet

  • Consider switching to plant based from meat based diet

Food

  • eating what you buy (e.g., saving leftovers and keeping things in the fridge) leads to a 25% reduction
  • reducing meat and dairy consumption — 25%
  • eating seasonally (here the author provides a quick guide on what’s in season and when), avoiding hothouses and air freight — 10%
  • avoiding excessive packaging and recycling — 6%
  • helping shops reduce waste by buying items from the front of the shelves, reduced-price items and misshapen fruit and vegetables — 2%
  • cooking using less energy (i.e., use a pan lid and reduce the heat where possible, and turn off the gas when not in use) — 5%

If you do most of these things you can comfortably cut down your carbon food-print by 60%

Fertilizer

  • one tonne of inefficiently-made and excessively-used fertiliser can create emissions twelve times in size (12.3 CO2e tonnes). So at the production end, there is huge scope for cutting fertiliser use without affecting yields
  • it can provide other environmental and social benefits, especially for poor farmers in debt because of high fertiliser prices
  • Reducing fertilizer use is a real carbon opportunity: up to half a per cent reduction in global emissions — it’s dead easy and has no bad side effects

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Eat Vegetarian

  • Livestock farming produces from 20 to 50% of all greenhouse gases
  • In terms of typical types of diets and their greenhouse gas emissions, a meat lover’s diet produces 3.3 tons CO2e, the average diet 2.5 tons CO2e, a no beef diet 1.9 tons CO2e, a vegetarian diet 1.7 tons CO2e, and a vegan diet 1.5 tons CO2e
  • Switching to a vegetarian diet, or a diet made of more plant based foods and less meat based, might lower your carbon footprint
  • Some people eat proteins such as beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh and quorn to replace meat, cheese and eggs

Do More Home Cooking

  • Home cooking gives you more control over the foods you eat, how much you eat and prepare, how you store them, and how much you throw out or waste

Cook Smartly

  • a gas oven only uses 6% of its energy to cook?,And an electric oven is not much better at 12%
  • the most efficient cooking method is simmering on the stove-top
  • next best is the microwave as it uses 50% less energy than an oven
  • Raw foods that don’t require cooking are the best as they don’t use energy at all

Eat Organic

  • Organic farming methods for both crops and animals have a much lower impact on the environment than conventional methods
  • But make sure to check what ‘organic’ is defined as by laws or regulations in your location so you know what you’re buying, and that you’re definitely contributing to lower emissions by buying it

Save Water

  • Hot water in particular needs to be heated up
  • The less hot water you use, the less energy/electricity you use (which generates emissions) to heat

Shop Wisely

  • Buy only what you need to. Over consumption increases waste
  • Avoid products that use lots of packaging (making packaging produces more emissions)
  • Buy in bulk to save money and reduce packaging
  • Check the label – a long list of ingredients generally means a heavily processed item with a high carbon footprint
  • Frozen food has the highest carbon footprint, followed by canned, plastic, glass, then cardboard

Shop Local

  • To minimise the carbon emitted during food transportation (around 11% of the greenhouse emissions involved in food production are linked to food transportation)

Reuse and Recycle

  • Reuse and recycle as much as you can.
  • Glass jars and plastic containers make great storage options.
  • Take your own shopping bags and say no to plastic bags.
  • Take reusable produce bags for your fruit and vegetables – if you use the ethylene-absorbing bags it prolongs shelf-life too

Grow Your Own Food, Or Set Up Community Gardens

  • Can reduce emissions by growing more naturally without the use of pesticides, fertilisers, transportation, packaging etc.

– greeneatz.com

 

Average carbon footprint per person by country

  • The global average carbon footprint in 2007 was around 5.7 tons CO2e/cap.
  • The EU average for this time was about 13.8 tons CO2e/cap,
  • The U.S., Luxembourg and Australia it was over 25 tons CO2e/cap.
  • The footprints per capita of countries in Africa and India were well below average.
  • To set this numbers into context, assuming a global population around 9-10 billion by 2050 a carbon footprint of about 2 – 2.5 tons CO2e per capita is needed to stay within a 2 °C target.

– Wikipedia.org

 

Other Stats On Carbon Footprints

  • In the US, each household produces 48 tons of greenhouse gases.
  • Food produces about 8 tons of emissions per household, or about 17% of the total.
  • Worldwide, new reports suggest that livestock agriculture produces around a half of all man-made emissions.

– greeneatz.com

 

  • In the UK, the total impact on the climate breaks down like this: carbon dioxide (86%), methane (7%), nitrous oxide (6%) and refrigerant gases (1%).
  • The dominant man-made greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted whenever we burn fossil fuels in homes, factories or power stations. But other greenhouse gases are also important. Methane (CH4), for example, which is emitted mainly by agriculture and landfill sites, is 25 times more potent per kilogram than CO2. Even more potent but emitted in smaller quantities are nitrous oxide (N2O), which is about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide and released mainly from industrial processes and farming, and refrigerant gases, which are typically several thousand times more potent than CO2.

– theguardian.com

 

  • The average U.S. household pumps 49 metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year
  • But, actual carbon footprints depend on location. For example, electricity generation is relatively climate-friendly, so focusing on vehicular emissions has a greater impact

– livescience.com

 

  • The average family of 4 creates 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year

– carbonfootprint.com

 

  • Fossil Fuels – fossil fuels alone, the burning of which contributes around 30 billion tonnes of CO2e or 56.6% of our total global emissions
  • Food – the food we buy can add up to 20% of our carbon footprint. And this is just at first glance, because if we count up the related damage of deforestation from big agriculture, this brings the impact up to 30%.
  • On aggregate, the annual global emissions from texting, e-mailing (roughly 90 trillion e-mails in 2009) and ‘googling’ could be as high as 360 million tonnes.
  • Add to that the 130 million tonnes of CO2e it takes to store the world’s data per year (web pages, databases, applications and downloads)
  • Each Australian and American has an average footprint of almost 30 tonnes of CO2e per year
  • The current global average (footprint per person) is more like 4-tonnes
  • Trying to limit rising global temperatures to 1.5°C, means cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. This means that per person per year we would have to live a 3-tonne lifestyle.

– ourworld.unu.edu

 

Greenhouse Gas & Carbon Footprint Calculators

You can calculate carbon per kilowatt hour of electricity with:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

You can calculate carbon per mile or kilometre of a standard vehicle, or other modes of transport with:

  • https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle
  • https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010.pdf
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_transport

There’s also general guides on how to calculate the GHG emissions of products:

  • https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/guides/carbon-footprinting-and-reporting/carbon-footprinting/

Otherwise, some online carbon calculators for household and lifestyle footprints can be found at:

  • https://www.carbonfootprint.com/
  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/interactive/2009/oct/20/guardian-quick-carbon-calculator
  • http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/

 

Greenhouse Gases In Industries

The above guide is more so about the household level and us as consumers.

You can checkout this guide for information on greenhouse gas emissions in different industries.

 

An Interesting Note About Carbon Footprints 

What is generally assumed about carbon footprints by many sources is that locally produced or grown products and services are better (or have a lower footprint).

This is not always the case.

The type of transport used to move a product matters – sea freight can be much more eco friendly than road freight in terms of emissions.

Just as one example, there can be less GHG emissions manufacturing in China and sea freighting to an Australian city port, rather than manufacturing in Australia and road freighting within Australia (whogivesacrap.org)

So, this goes to show that presumptions can’t be made, and each carbon footprint must be calculated individually, and specifically looking at each step of the entire process that sources, produces and delivers a product or service to market (and even the consumption and disposal or re-use stages if you want to go that far).

 

Sources

1. http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html

2. https://www.activesustainability.com/sustainable-life/the-carbon-footprint-of-everyday-objects/

3. http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/methodology_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf

4. http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet

5. https://theconversation.com/the-hidden-carbon-cost-of-everyday-products-96745

6. https://www.livescience.com/13835-carbon-footprint-daily-activities.html

7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_footprint

8. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/

9. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/carbonfootprints

10. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/interactive/2009/oct/20/guardian-quick-carbon-calculator

11. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2010/jun/04/carbon-footprint-definition

12. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/series/the-carbon-footprint-of-everything

13. https://www.opb.org/news/blog/ecotrope/the-carbon-footprint-of-everything/

14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_assessment

15. http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/

16. https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/uncovering-the-carbon-footprint-of-everything

17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_transport

18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

19. https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010.pdf

20. https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/guides/carbon-footprinting-and-reporting/carbon-footprinting/

21. https://www.carbontrust.com/media/482025/product-carbon-footprint-certification.pdf

22. http://www.circularecology.com/embodied-energy-and-carbon-footprint-database.html#.W8hPXhMzbR0

23. https://greet.es.anl.gov/

24. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/minimisecfp.html

25. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/energyperformancecorp.html

26. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/carbonoffset.html

27. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/sciencebasedtargets.html

28. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/plastic_waste.html

29. https://support.au.whogivesacrap.org/article/37-limiting-emissions

What Is A Water Footprint, & Virtual Water? (In Products, Foods etc.)

Explaining A Water Footprint, & Virtual Water In Products, Food & More

It takes water to make or produce almost everything around you that you buy, use and consume.

Over the lifecycle of a product or activity, the amount of water consumed, withdrawn or used is called the ‘water footprint’ (but it can also include the water polluted and contaminated over a product lifecycle, as degraded water can’t be used unless treated)

In this guide, we explain important information relating to water footprints, along with virtual water.

 

Summary – Water Footprints, & Virtual Water

  • A water footprint is the volume of water consumed, evaporated and polluted/contaminated, direct and indirect water that is used for a product or service over it’s complete lifecycle (or, over a specific part of the life cycle, such as production)
  • For example, when you eat rice or a piece of fruit, water is required to grow that food, as well as deliver it to a food store.
  • When you drive a car, there is water used in the manufacturing, as well as to wash the car. There is even water used to refine the gasoline that a car runs on.
  • Evaporated, and polluted and contaminated water is included because these types of water are often non recoverable 
  • There’s different ways a water footprint can be expressed. For example, with food, it could be expressed as water required per 1 kg, per calorie, per gram of protein, per serving, and so on. It could also be expressed for an individual, a corporate entity, a city or a whole country. It could be expressed for a single process, or for a whole lifecycle
  • The different types of water in a water footprint are the blue (from surface water and ground water sources), green (from rainfall – such as rainfed crops) and grey water footprints (water required to dilute waste water, or polluted/contaminated water)
  • Even importing products from other countries carries a water footprint, although it should be noted it’s often the country doing the exporting that have their water supplies being depleted or impacted (importing countries can save water this way)
  • There are limitations to using a water footprint or measuring virtual water i.e. just relying on water volume stats to make a decision about whether a product is sustainable or not. Volume based water footprint stats don’t take into account local context and conditions – for example, a high water footprint is not bad if the product comes from an area where fresh water is abundant, or where water or certain products or services are vital in providing local jobs.

*Note – measuring and expressing a water footprint can’t be 100% accurate because of how complex and difficult data gathering can be, and data given to researchers is often incomplete as well. A water footprint is more of an indicator we can use to pick up trends and patterns of specific products, items and activities, and to make general comparisons.

 

What Is A Water Footprint?

  • A water footprint is the volume of total direct and indirect water consumed, evaporated and polluted/contaminated during a specified stage of a product’s lifecycle, or the whole lifecycle (from the material sourcing stage, all the way through to disposal)
  • A water footprint reveals water use patterns – specifically of the non recoverable water used in a process or lifecycle
  • It can be calculated for a single product stage, or a whole lifecycle
  • It can be calculated for an individual, or who households, companies, cities, States and countries
  • A water footprint can be expressed in many ways – per weight of production, per dollar of production, per gram of protein produced, per calorie produced, and more
  • Water footprints give people and organisations a reference of how much total water, or how much of a specific water type of water (blue, green, grey) a product uses
  • This can give us a better idea of how to sustainably manage our fresh water resources

 

The watercalculator.org and waterfootprint.org resources in the list below have further definitions of what a water footprint is.

 

Different Types Of Water Footprints – Blue, Green & Grey

Blue (surface water and ground water), green (rainfall) and grey water (water required to dilute waste water) footprints are all different. They measure different types of water used for a process or product.

These water footprints can be looked at separately, or added together for a total water footprint.

They offer another layer of specificity and delineation for us to be able to manage our water supplies sustainably.

 

  • Blue Water Footprint: The amount of surface water and groundwater required (evaporated or used directly) to produce an item.
  • Green Water Footprint: The amount of rainwater required (evaporated or used directly) to make an item.
  • Grey Water Footprint: The amount of freshwater required to dilute the wastewater generated in manufacturing, in order to maintain water quality, as determined by state and local standards.

– watercalculator.org

 

  • Blue water footprint – is water that has been sourced from surface or groundwater resources and is either evaporated, incorporated into a product or taken from one body of water and returned to another, or returned at a different time. Irrigated agriculture, industry and domestic water use can each have a blue water footprint.
  • Green water footprint – is water from precipitation/rainfall that is stored in the root zone of the soil and evaporated, transpired or incorporated by plants. It is particularly relevant for agricultural, horticultural and forestry products.
  • Grey water footprint – is the amount of fresh water required to assimilate pollutants to meet specific water quality standards. The grey water footprint considers point-source pollution discharged to a freshwater resource directly through a pipe or indirectly through runoff or leaching from the soil, impervious surfaces, or other diffuse sources

– waterfootprint.org

 

  • Green Water Footprint (Rainfall) – Precipitation/rainfall. Is stored temporarily as surface or soil moisture and used directly on crops
  • Grey Water Footprint (pollution arising from production of a good or service) – Water required to treated polluted run off and production water to acceptable levels
  • Blue Water Footprint (Irrigation) – Water stored in rivers, lakes or aquifers, and used during irrigation and production
  • The overwhelming majority of water in the water footprint of some common foods/crops is green water, followed by blue, followed by grey
  • Conventionally, consumption of green water — essentially free to use in most cases, and much of which would be consumed by noncrop plants anyhow — is preferable over blue water, which depletes aquifers and impacts ecosystems if overused.
  • Most provinces in China consume predominantly green water for agricultural production, but that volumes of green and blue water required to raise given crops or livestock vary widely across the country
  • [Earth Magazine also further discusses how China, Mongolia etc. use blue, green and grey water in their article]

– earthmagazine.org

 

You can see examples of how Green, Blue and Grey water is used separately for certain products here:

 

What Is ‘Virtual Water’ Or ‘Hidden Water’?

Virtual water or hidden water is the water you don’t see that goes into the process of making something.

For example, with a cotton shirt, not only is water used to grow cotton, but it can also be used in the manufacturing stage, like during wet processing for example with bleaching, printing, and dyeing.

Another example is the separate materials used to make a car – steel, rubber, plastic, leather, foam etc. Not only is water used in the manufacturing process for cleaning, cooling and so on when the car is being put together, but it is used for these raw materials that make up the car (and even in the process of extracting or making those materials).

 

  • … [virtual water] is water that is not felt or seen but is used for the production processes for many different raw materials and finished products.
  • … smartphones in particular have virtual water associated with their manufacturing (grey water footprint) …
  • Phones are composed of many pieces created in multiple steps, and each step consumes water. Numerous resources, materials and parts go into smartphone manufacturing, including rare earth metals (e.g., lithium), tin, glass and plastics. The supply chains for these materials stretch around the world to places like Indonesia, the Philippines and China. Production might include steps like mining for precious metals, creating synthetic chemicals for glue and plastic and assembling and packaging. Collectively, the water associated with each step adds up to the blue water footprint.
  • In addition, manufacturing the parts creates wastewater that is released into surrounding waterways. Those waterways often have pollution limits that manufacturers must meet before they can send their wastewater down the pipe and into the waterway. The water used to clean and dilute the wastewater adds up to the grey water footprint, and in the case of the smart phone, makes up the largest portion of its total water footprint.
  • When the water required for all the steps to make a smart phone is added up, the water footprint of the production of a single phone is an estimated 3,190 gallons.

– watercalculator.org

 

  • Closely linked to the water footprint concept is the virtual water concept. Virtual water is defined as the volume of water required to produce a commodity or service.

– waterfootprint.org

 

  • The virtual water concept applies not just to crops, but to fodder-fed livestock, manufactured items, energy and any goods or services — agricultural, industrial or otherwise — that consume freshwater during their production.
  • Virtual water volumes, for example, are used to calculate water footprints — estimates of direct and indirect water use by producers and consumers — which have been used as an outreach tool to raise awareness of sustainability concerns. And both virtual water analyses and water footprints have been cited by many as potentially valuable tools for influencing trade and water policies to promote conservation and combat water scarcity.

– earthmagazine.org

 

  • Virtual water trade (also known as trade in embedded or embodied water) refers to the hidden flow of water if food or other commodities are traded from one place to another.
  • For instance, it takes 1,340 cubic meters of water (based on the world average) to produce one metric tonne of wheat. The precise volume can be more or less depending on climatic conditions and agricultural practice.
  • … the virtual-water content of a product (a commodity, good or service) is “the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced”. It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain.
  • The water is said to be virtual because once the wheat is grown, the real water used to grow it is no longer actually contained in the wheat.
  • The concept of virtual water helps us realize how much water is needed to produce different goods and services.
  • In semi-arid and arid areas, knowing the virtual water value of a good or service can be useful towards determining how best to use the scarce water available

– wikipedia.org

 

Direct & Indirect Water Use

Direct water is the water used directly by an individual or company, whilst indirect water is the water that was used at a previous stage i.e. earlier in the supply or manufacture chain/process.

One example is with a manufacturer who might use water directly in their factory as part of their manufacturing process, or for cleaning. But, they may use water indirectly if the materials they bought from supplier have used water in the extraction or making of those materials.

Another example is at the household level:

  • Direct water – water used for drinking, bathing, cleaning, gardening and lawns etc.
  • Indirect water – households also eat food and use electricity. Water is used at the farm level for irrigation, and at the power plant level for electricity generation. The household level does not see this war usage, even though they get the end product – food, or electricity

 

  • … the direct water footprint … is the water used directly by the individual(s) and the indirect water footprint … [is] the summation of the water footprints of all the products consumed.

– waterfootprint.org

 

There’s also this explanation:

  • Direct water usage – bringing water into a manufacturing facility for an industrial process
  • Indirect water usage – when a manufacturing facility is buying items from the supply chain that were manufactured by someone else using water, then incorporating those materials into the finished product
  • In terms of direct water usage, nobody beats the agriculture and power-generation industries, which together are responsible for 90 percent of direct water withdrawals. Yet a majority of water usage (about 60 percent) is indirect.
  • About 96 percent of industry sectors use more water indirectly than directly in their supply chains.

– news.thomasnet.com

 

Limitations Of The Water Footprint Concept, & Virtual Water, & Putting It Into Context

The consensus seems to be that whilst a water footprint or virtual water statistics can provide some perspective on water use, it can’t be used a sole indicator of water use.

They may be best used in an integrated approach with other water usage stats, tools and information, whilst also weighing up other relevant factors.

 

  • … virtual water is a useful, albeit limited tool for addressing water issues …
  • … calculations of virtual water are inconsistent or inaccurate
  • … volumetric indicators ignore important local socioeconomic factors related to water consumption
  • … and … if used to guide trade or water allocation policies, they could end up hurting the very populations at risk from water scarcity.

– earthmagazine.org

 

Putting water footprints into context, and what to be aware of when using them going forward:

  • Some countries like Spain and India have used the concept for help in forming regulations and policies
  • [Other countries like Australia and the Netherlands have taken the opposite approach – saying virtual water has little practical value for governmental decision making]
  • … virtual water and water footprints can be good [for public awareness]
  • [One problem with] purely volumetric measures [is that they] lack vital context … especially the local socioeconomic and environmental conditions where … food or clothes are produced [prior to being exported, often to developed countries]
  • You have to know: Where does the product come from? Is there water scarcity there? Are there human rights injustices there? Is there pollution there during the growing of the crops? …
  • A high water footprint is not a bad thing … [when it comes from a] water-abundant region or from a region with sound water management in place does no harm
  • In a place like Sri Lanka where rain is abundant in some parts, the water footprint of a coconut probably doesn’t matter too much (because of the amount of rain). People working on coconut plantations or in garment factories depend on local water resources for their livelihoods [so, you don’t want to discount the] employment opportunities water provides
  • Virtual water and water footprints should ideally be embedded in a broader narrative around water management, productive water use, domestic and international trade
  • A sustainability index or indicator should capture all the important elements of a problem you are trying to solve. Virtual water and water footprints, which don’t capture all of the necessary elements, have been misused as sustainability indices.
  • [Water problems need to be solved on the local level – not globally]
  • Water footprints need to target individual countries, states, river basins or even cities — to get a more accurate and relevant picture of virtual water flows and their impacts. Patterns of water use are really driven not by countries, they’re driven by cities
  • Virtual water should have to do with what you are using the water for, what value you are creating, in terms of jobs and money, what you are getting for your water use, and how we are dependent on our neighbors at a very small scale. It should also distinguish among green, blue and gray water (because they are not all equal from a financial, cultural and environmental perspective)
  • How best to measure gray water and how comparable it is to green and blue water is one reporting area that can be refined. Polluted water/grey water may need to be separated out from the virtual water reporting
  • How far upstream through supply and production chains one accounts for in calculations, for instance, will clearly affect the results of virtual water reporting, as will the quality of data available in different areas. However, as long as the scope and goals of virtual water and water footprint assessments are clearly laid out and acknowledged, confusion over such inconsistencies can be mitigated.
  • Standardisation of virtual water reporting may help
  • … Volumetric indices alone are not sufficient to determine the sustainability of water use related to any particular crop, product, company or country, but they are the most essential pieces of info
  • Modeling of virtual water trades is an important tool for planners, but it is not a “magic bullet” to solve problems.
  • Water footprints and stats on virtual water may be really important for multinational corporations and businesses – to help them understand how much virtual water they are importing and in what river basins their footprints are located, and what the risks are to their supply chains
  • A business is going to be more secure and more profitable if you eliminate risky and unsustainable suppliers from your supply chain
  • You might want to know if you’re doing business with a supplier whose water footprint and virtual water trade are really creating problems for the local water supply
  • A number of major companies — SABMiller, PepsiCo and Nestlé among them — have adopted the approach – producing reports of their own virtual water usage
  • Businesses are typically in a better position than governments to identify unsustainable hot spots in supply chains, where water resources are being threatened through overuse or pollution, because they know in detail where their materials and services are originating
  • The problem with regulations obliging companies to report and possibly minimize virtual water usage is that “every company is different and every country is different
  • [All parties and levels of society must come together] to recognize and deal with water issues

– earthmagazine.org

 

  • Water footprints consider only the volume of water used in production, without considering other inputs or opportunity costs.
  • Water volumes, alone, are not sufficient indicators of the benefits or costs of water use in any setting. The benefits and costs are functions of complex interactions involving physical, economic, and social dimensions that are not contained or reflected in estimates of water footprints.
  • Comparing two water footprints across activities, locations, or time is not a helpful exercise if one does not have information regarding water scarcity conditions, the opportunity costs of water, and water’s role in supporting livelihoods in each setting.

– globalwaterforum.org

 

According to Wikipedia:

Key shortcomings of virtual water measures are that the concept:

  1. It relies on an assumption that all sources of water, whether in the form of rainfall or provided through an irrigation system, are of equal value.
  2. It implicitly assumes that water that would be released by reducing a high water use activity would necessarily be available for use in a less water-intensive activity. For example, the implicit assumption is that water used in rangeland beef production would be available to be used to produce an alternative, less water-intensive activity. As a practical matter this may not be the case, nor might the alternatives be economic.
  3. It fails as an indicator of environmental harm nor does it provide any indication of whether water resources are being used within sustainable extraction limits. The use of virtual water estimates therefore offer no guidance for policy makers seeking to ensure that environmental objectives are being met.

For specific parts of the world, such as the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region, there would also be specific short comings in using virtual water measures.

 

See also these resources for more reasons that the virtual water footprint concept can be limited:

 

Where Do The Water Footprint, & Virtual Water Concepts Come From?

  • The water footprint concept, sources and methodology come from the Water Footprint Network (WFN). The concept was created by Dr. Arjen Hoekstra who, along with the others at the WFN, developed the framework and established the international organization as the foremost research network in the discipline.

– watercalculator.org

 

  • Tony Allan, a political geographer and Middle East scholar at King’s College London, coined the term “virtual water”  in 1993 to help explain why long-predicted “water wars” driven by water and food security had not occurred among the arid nations of the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Allan noted that Egypt, Israel, Jordan and other countries in the region were buying millions of tons of grain each year from water-rich countries to supplement their own food production and buoy prosperity (countries in the Middle East can save their scarce water resources by relying more on import of food).

– earthmagazine.org

 

What Causes An Increase In, Or Puts Pressure On The Water Footprint?

  • As population size increases, so too does water use for everything – products and food included
  • Using water intensive food, electricity and consumer goods increases the water footprint
  • By the year 2030, experts predict that global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent.
  • [A changing climate has already led] to changes to the water cycle, leading to prolonged periods of drought (and, conversely, more extreme rainfall) in some areas.
  • Reduced water supplies could add to water insecurity …

– watercalculator.org

 

  • … human impacts on freshwater systems can ultimately be linked to human consumption, and … issues like water shortages and pollution can be better understood and addressed by considering production and supply chains as a whole
  • Water problems are often closely tied to the structure of the global economy.
  • Many countries have significantly externalised their water footprint, importing water-intensive goods from elsewhere. This puts pressure on the water resources in the exporting regions, where too often mechanisms for wise water governance and conservation are lacking.
  • Not only governments, but also consumers, businesses and civil society communities can play a role in achieving a better management of water resources

– waterfootprint.org

 

Ways To Reduce A Water Footprint

Just a few ways across society might be:

  • Reducing water use 
  • Reducing water leaks, loss and waste 
  • Buying fewer new products and reducing overconsumption
  • Buying second hand
  • Recycling water intensive materials and products – In 2012, for example, the US threw out over 24 million tons of paper and almost 29 million tons of plastic – both of which are water-intensive materials that can be re-used and/or recycled. Recycling a pound of paper – the same amount found in a typical daily newspaper – saves 3.5 gallons of water (watercalculator.org)
  • Avoiding purchases of disposable, low-quality goods
  • Reducing or becoming more efficient with energy and electricity use – energy and electricity production uses a lot of water
  • Increasing efficient manufacturing practices, most factories have reduced water use by 12 percent since 2005, and 33 percent since 1970 (watercalculator.org)
  • Reduce food waste
  • Businesses can track and manage water usage better
  • More efficient agricultural irrigation systems

 

Water Footprints Are Often Local & Individualized

Different countries can have different water footprints for the food they produce, and products they make.

You can read more in:

 

Importing Virtual Water, & Virtual Water Trade Between Countries

  • China is one of the biggest importers of virtual water in the world
  • China is the world’s top soybean buyer, importing tens of millions of metric tons per year. And behind each ton is more than 2,000 cubic meters of water — either rainfall or irrigation — needed to grow, harvest and prepare soybeans for use. In the case of soybeans and other crops, the majority of this water is lost to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration during the plants’ lifetime, and none of it — save the tiny amount still hydrating the final product — actually makes it to China. Yet, to an extent, this virtual water represents an enormous volume of real water that China need not pull from its own shrinking endowment.
  • Importing water intensive foods or products can be a replacement for having your own water water
  • It can ease stress on the countries’ own limited resources, and they can use those resources on other industries and direct consumption

– earthmagazine.org

 

  • Virtual water trade refers to the idea that when goods and services are exchanged, so is virtual water. When a country imports one tonne of wheat instead of producing it domestically, it is saving about 1,300 cubic meters of real indigenous water.
  • If this country is water-scarce, the water that is ‘saved’ can be used towards other ends.
  • If the exporting country is water-scarce, however, it has exported 1,300 cubic meters of virtual water since the real water used to grow the wheat will no longer be available for other purposes.
  • Water-scarce countries like Palestine discourage the export of oranges (relatively heavy water guzzlers) precisely to prevent large quantities of water being exported to different parts of the world

– wikipedia.org

 

Virtual Water, & Water Footprints Increasing Over Time

  • There’s been studies into how virtual water trade volumes related to different crops had changed over time between 1986 to 2007
  • The total virtual water volume associated with global food trade had more than doubled during the 22-year study period, in part reflecting the overall growth of global trade; that “international food trade has led to enhanced savings in global water resources over time” by transferring commodities grown in countries that use water more efficiently — either because of more favorable climates or better technology — to less water-efficient countries; and that virtual water trade patterns had shifted substantially in some respects.
  • Virtual water trade within North America quadrupled …
  • Asia, meanwhile, increased its virtual water imports by 170 percent, with China leading the way.
  • China trades between it’s provinces, and with the rest of the world
  • In 2001, China became the world’s largest virtual water importer, and, by 2007, accounted for 13 percent of the total global trade. Roughly 90 percent of this amount was due to imports of soybeans. 

– earthmagazine.org

 

Examples Of Water Footprints In Different Foods & Products

We put together a guide of the water footprints of some different products and foods.

Examples of the different types of water footprints and how they make up the different food and product overall water footprints can also be seen here:

 

Some Water Footprint Statistics & Trends

  • The water footprint of Chinese consumption is about 1070 cubic metres per year per capita. About 10% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.
  • Japan with a footprint of 1380 cubic metres per year per capita, has about 77% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country.
  • The water footprint of US citizens is 2840 cubic meter per year per capita. About 20% of this water footprint is external. The largest external water footprint of US consumption lies in the Yangtze River Basin, China.
  • The global water footprint of humanity in the period 1996-2005 was 9087 billions of cubic meters per year (74% green, 11% blue, 15% grey). Agricultural production contributes 92% to this total footprint.

– waterfootprint.org

 

  • The average American’s daily water footprint for all the (non-food) household goods they purchase, use and throw away is 583 gallons.

– watercalculator.org

 

You can find more stats on water footprints and water use here (waterfootprint.org)

 

Water Footprint Assessment & Calculation Tools

You can find more tools for assessing and calculating water footprints here (waterfootprint.org) 

There’s also a Water Footprint Calculator at GRACE (gracelinks.org)

Otherwise, what you can do with food specifically, is:

  • Find out the weight of the food you are eating (e.g. an 8oz beef steak), or count the number of that item of food you are eating (e.g. two eggs)
  • Google the amount of water that food takes to produce per unit of weight
  • Multiply the weight or number of the food item by the litres per weight or number to get the water footprint

 

Why Is A High Water Footprint Not Always A Bad Thing (With Examples)?

If you are just looking at the total water used to make or deliver something – this can be misleading.

You’ve got to look at the type of water involved, and the conditions/variables for each specific water footprint.

Let’s look at some examples to see what we mean (there’s probably other examples too):

 

  • Mainly Rain Fed Crops & Food vs Irrigated Crops & Food

Irrigation in agriculture is one of, if not the biggest freshwater user in society.

But, some types of farming such as organic farming may focus on having mainly rain-fed crops and food.

You could have an irrigated farm and rain fed farm with similar water footprints, but the rain fed one might be considered more sustainable as you don’t have to touch or deplete freshwater sources (blue water) to do it – which means more freshwater is available for drinking water, industry, power generations and households.

 

Power plants and energy production (including both electricity production and refining petroleum for vehicles) requires water.

Turbines in power plants for example need a lot of water for cooling.

Power plants using ‘once through’ cooling, or using freshwater sources for cooling vs. a power plant that uses water more than once and is able to make use of treated waste water or other types of water than fresh water – would be considered more sustainable. 

Watercalculator.org writes about once through and closed cycle systems

The same can be said for factories and industrial activities that can capture, treat and re-use waste and grey water.

 

  • Water Scarce vs Water Abundant Countries & States

Ideally you’d like to minimise fresh water use if you can, but using more water in water abundant states and countries may not be as much of a problem.

Dry countries, and countries that are already water scarce would be ill advised to see having water footprints as high as water abundant countries for similar products.

Russia and Brazil for example are countries with large renewable fresh water supplies (compare that for example to dry water scarce countries in the Middle East).

 

Sources

1. https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste

2. https://www.watercalculator.org/water-use/the-hidden-water-in-everyday-products/

3. http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report16Vol1.pdf

4. https://www.watercalculator.org/footprints/what-is-a-water-footprint/

5. http://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/product-gallery/

6. http://waterfootprint.org/en/water-footprint/what-is-water-footprint/

7. https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/virtual-water-tracking-unseen-water-goods-and-resources

8. https://get-green-now.com/food-water-footprint-infographic/

9. https://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/waterstat/

10. http://www.gracelinks.org/1408/water-footprint-calculator

11. https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/virtual-water-tracking-unseen-water-goods-and-resources

12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_water

13. https://news.thomasnet.com/imt/2012/04/10/down-the-drain-industry-water-use

14. https://www.motherjones.com/food/2015/04/blue-jeans-cars-microchips-water-use/

15. http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2013/10/22/water-footprints-policy-relevant-or-one-dimensional-indicators/

16. http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2012/05/14/virtual-water-some-reservations/

17. https://www.watercalculator.org/water-use/the-water-footprint-of-energy/

18. https://www.watercalculator.org/footprints/rainwater-green-water-footprint/

How Much Water It Takes To Produce/Make Common Everyday Products & Foods (Water Footprint/Virtual Water) 

How Much Water It Takes To Produce & Make Common Everyday Products & Foods (Water Footprint) 

Have you ever considered how much water it takes to make jeans, a t shirt, beef, or other items we use or consume in society on an everyday basis?

In this guide, we look at how much water is takes to make and produce common everyday products and foods i.e. what their water footprints are.

Although water footprints of products and foods are a very rough/general estimate only, they can be a good starting point to consider how the choices we make of what to produce and consume impact water resources.

 

Summary – Foods, Products, & The Water It Takes To Make Them 

  • On a per weight basis, livestock animals meats, dairy based products (such as chocolate, butter and cheese) and processed foods can be water intensive to produce 
  • Amongst livestock animals meats, poultry tends to take less water to produce than other meats like beef and lamb, or even pork for example. Beef tends to be be the most water intensive (largely from animal feed for factory farmed beef)
  • In terms of non animal meat based foods, some rice paddy varieties, some olive varieties, and some almonds can be water hungry
  • Tomatoes and cabbages might be amongst some of the least water intensive crops to grow, along with potatoes
  • With food, it’s too simplistic to give one figure that summarises the amount of water required to produce it. One things you have to consider how water use is being measured.
  • For example, different measurables might include water usage per serving size, per gram of protein, per gram of fat, per amount of carbs, per micro and macro nutrients, per calorie, price, and so on. Some estimates indicate that meat even uses less water compared to fruit, grains and vegetables when measuring per dollar of economic value produced
  • In addition, some foods have different variations and types – like sugar – which can be produced from sugar beet or sugar cane, and both these variations can have different water footprints. Milk is another example – there’s many different types of milk available – cow milk, goat milk, almond milk, and so on
  • Water required to grow or produce food can also be geographic location specific i.e. it can depend on the methods or systems the farmer or producer uses, the soil type, the local climate, the amount of rain fed water used vs other types of water, and so on. These variables can drastically change the final water volume required for production
  • Something that people don’t consider with beverages like sodas, fruit juices, coffee and beer or wine is that it can be the crops or plants used in those beverages, and not the manufacturing process that can be responsible for a lot of water use. Pure water usually has a lower water footprint than all those beverages
  • Separate to the water footprint of individual foods and drinks, is the water footprint of a person’s diet. This takes into consideration the amount and types of foods eaten. For example, the average American diet might be far more water intensive than the diet of someone from another country
  • Also separate to the water footprint of individual foods and drinks, is the volume of water used for certain food products within the agriculture industry as a whole. Volume can be broken down into plant vs non plant based products, and then into the individual meat types, fruit types, vegetable types, grain types, and so on. One estimate from news.thomasnet.com is ’29 percent of the total water footprint of the agricultural sector in the world is related to the production of animal products. One-third of that water is used to raise beef cattle.’
  • In terms of fibres, cotton usually requires a lot more water to grow compared to other fibres
  • Cars as a product usually use a lot of water to manufacture
  • Different types of energy or electricity production can be more or less water efficient than others – for example, natural gas can be far more water efficient per unit of electricity or energy produced than coal and some types of biofuel
  • With any product, it should be considered how long that product lasts for – and the water footprint can be divided among the number of years. This gives an idea of water footprint per year of owning the product (and gives a good way to compare products too). This is also a good way, if you throw out or update products regularly (like cars and phones), to see what your water footprint is to repair or keep a product vs getting a new one
  • Direct and indirect water used to produce a product should be considered – this provides a total water footprint for the product across the entire production process, right up to purchase and consumption. For example, a product like water needs to be packaged, usually with a plastic bottle, and then also disposed of – both of which have a water footprint. Operational water footprints should also be considered e.g. how much water is used in the products and services required to run, repair and maintain … cars are a good example of this with water required to refine fuel, to clean the car, and so on.
  • The features and characteristics of a finished product should be considered. As one example, 1kg of bovine leather may require a certain amount of water to produce, but the final amount of leather used in a small leather wallet is far less than the amount of leather used in a large leather jacket – and this impacts the final water footprint.
  • The type of water used to produce a product or grow food should be considered – for example, using highly renewable water or growing rainfed crops, is different to using non renewable fresh water, or excessive water use from sources such as aquifers that can take a long time to recharge
  • When looking at the visible and invisible water footprint of individuals, we see that the food we eat makes up a large majority of the total footprint, with meat eaters having a larger water footprint than vegetarians. Food waste also play a significant part in the daily water footprint of an individual 
  • There’s ultimately a vast amount of variables that can go into calculating and comparing water footprints – which can make the task complex
  • Water footprints also have their limitations, such as only producing a water volume number that represents product. Local context such as providing jobs and livelihoods to people, or having abundant water supplies are represented with a basic water footprint number

*Note – water footprints of different products and activities are a rough guide only because of the nature of being able to accurately gather water use data over the lifecycle of a product, and the complexities and challenges involved. They can however be used to identify general trends and general water data, as well as be used for general comparisons.

 

How Much Water It Takes To Produce/Make Common Everyday Products & Foods

Water required per unit of food weight or beverage volume is:

  • Chocolate – 17,196 litres per 1kg
  • Beef Meat- 15,415 litres per 1kg
  • Sheep Meat – 10,412 litres per 1kg
  • Pork Meat – 5988 litres per 1kg
  • Butter – 5553 litres per 1kg
  • Chicken Meat – 4325 litres per 1kg
  • Cheese – 3178 litres per 1kg
  • Olives – 3025 litres per 1kg
  • Paddy Rice – 2497 litres per 1kg
  • Cotton – 2495 litres per 250g
  • Pasta (Dry) – 1849 litres per 1kg
  • Bread – 1608 litres per 1kg
  • Pizza – 1239 litres per 1kg
  • Apple – 822 litres per 1kg
  • Banana – 790 litres per 1kg
  • Potatoes – 287 litres per 1kg
  • Milk – 255 litres per 250ml glass
  • Cabbage & Lettuce – 237 litres per 1kg
  • Tomato – 214 litres per 1kg
  • Egg – 196 litres per one 60 gram egg
  • Wine – 109 litres per 250ml glass
  • Beer – 74 litres per 250ml glass
  • Tea – 27 litres per 250ml cup

Additionally, meat production requires a much higher amount of water than vegetables. … to produce 1kg of meat requires between 5,000 and 20,000 litres of water, whereas to produce 1kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4,000 litres of water.

– theguardian.com

 

According to the interactive product gallery on WaterFootPrint.org, other water estimations to produce other products are:

  • Coffee – 132 litres per 125 ml
  • Cucumber or Pumpkin – 353 litres per 1kg
  • Orange – 560 litres per 1kg
  • Peach Or Nectarine – 910 litres per 1kg
  • Sugar (from sugar beet) – 920 litres per 1kg
  • Bio-ethanol (from Sugar Beet) – 1,188 litres of water per litre of bio-ethanol
  • Maize/Corn – 1222 litres per 1kg
  • Margherita Pizza – 1259 litres per 1kg
  • Sugar (from sugar cane) – 1782 litres per 1kg
  • Mango/Guava – 1800 litres per 1kg
  • Bio-ethanol (from Sugar Cane) – 2,107 litres of water per litre of bio-ethanol
  • Dates – 2277 litres per 1kg
  • Groundnuts/Peanuts – 2782 litres per 1kg
  • Bio-ethanol (from Maize) – 2,854 litres of water per litre of bio-ethanol
  • Milk Power – 4745 litres per 1kg
  • Goat Meat – 5521 litres per 1kg
  • Bio-diesel (from Soybean) – 11,397 litres of water per litre of bio-diesel
  • Leather (from bovines) – 17093 litres per 1kg (A bovine animal at the end of its life time has an average water footprint of 1,890,000 litre)
  • The global average water footprint of chicken meat is about 4330 litre/kg. The water footprint of chicken meat is smaller than the footprints of meat from beef cattle (15400 litre/kg), sheep (10400 litre/kg), pig (6000 litre/kg) or goat (5500 litre/kg).
  • The water footprint related to the animal feed takes by far the largest share (99%) in the total water footprint of beef. Drinking and service water contribute only 1% toward the total water footprint. One piece of beef can be very different from another piece. The precise water footprint of beef strongly depends on the production system from which the beef is derived (grazing, mixed or industrial), the composition of the feed and the origin of the feed. Due to the large feed conversion efficiency, beef from industrial systems generally has a lower total water footprint than beef from mixed or grazing systems.
  • The water footprint of sheep meat strongly depends on the production system from which the meat is derived (grazing, mixed or industrial), the composition of the feed and the origin of the feed.
  • The average water footprint per calorie for pork is five times larger than for cereals and starchy roots. The average water footprint per gram of protein in the case of pork is three times larger than for pulses.

– waterfootprint.org

 

  • The water footprints of some of the most common products are:
    • Car – 13,737 to 21,926 gallons
    • Leather Shoes – 3,626 gallons
    • Smart Phone (mobile) – 3,190 gallons
    • Bed Sheet (cotton) – 2,839 gallons
    • Jeans (cotton) – 2,108 gallons
    • T Shirt (cotton) – 659 gallons

– watercalculator.org

 

  • … it takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic
  • … it takes at least twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water contained in the bottle
  • The water footprint of one pound of cotton is 1,320 gallons. That equals over 650 gallons of water for one new cotton t-shirt
  • Refining gasoline takes water – approximately one to 2.5 gallons of water to refine one gallon of gasoline
  • To meet all of these needs, industrial facilities in the US withdraw over 15.9 billion gallons of water per day

– watercalculator.org

 

  • Cereal (25 grams) – 41 litres of water
  • Milk (250ml) – 255 litres of water
  • Egg (one) – 200 litres of water
  • One Hamburger – 2808 litres of water. Two hamburger buns are 85 litres, One 6oz beef patty is 2626 litres, one leaf of lettuce is 1 litre, one slice of tomato is 6 litres, one slice of cheese is 90 litres
  • One Coke (335ml) – 124 litres of water
  • One Beef Steak (8oz) – 3496 litres of water
  • Corn (a half ear) – 277 litres
  • Baked Potato (one) – 108 litres of water
  • The average American might have a water footprint of over 7000 litres a day based on the food they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily

– get-green-now.com

 

It takes this much water to produce a kilogram (litres per kilogram) of the following common goods:

  • Coffee (roasted beans) – 18,900 Litres (132L per 125ml cup)
  • Chocolate – 17,196 Litres (1700L per 3.5 oz bar)
  • Beef – 15,415 Litres
  • Cotton – 10,000 Litres (8000L per pair of jeans)
  • Tea – 8,860 Litres (27L per 250ml cup)
  • Pork – 5,988 Litres
  • Chicken – 4,325 Litres
  • Eggs – 3,267 Litres
  • Olives – 3,015 Litres
  • Rice – 2,497 Litres
  • Soybeans – 2,145 Litres
  • Wheat – 1,827 Litres
  • Sugar (cane) – 1,782 Litres
  • Barley – 1,423 Litres
  • Corn – 1,222 Litres
  • Milk – 1,020 Litres (225L per 250ml cup)
  • Apples – 822 Litres (125L per apple)
  • Bananas – 790 Litres (160L per banana)
  • Beer – 298 Litres (74L per 250ml cup)
  • Potatoes – 287 Litres (260L per large bag of chips)

– earthmagazine.org

 

  • A microchip – 8 gallons of water
  • An apple – 18 gallons of water
  • Pint of beer – 20 gallons of water
  • 4 oz. Wine – 32 gallons of water
  • 16 oz. diet coke – 33 gallons of water
  • 4 oz. coffee – 37 gallons of water
  • 7 oz. Orange Juice – 45 gallons of water
  • Diaper – 214 gallons of water
  • 1lb of Chicken Meat – 467 gallons of water
  • 1lb Of Cheese – 599 gallons of water
  • Hamburger – 634 gallons of water
  • Cotton Shirt – 719 gallons of water
  • Ream Of White Paper – 1321 gallons of water
  • 1lb of Beef – 1857 gallons of water
  • Leather Shoes –  2113 gallons of water
  • Pair Of Jeans – 2866 gallons of water
  • Mid Sized Car – 39,090 gallons of water

– motherjones.com

 

  • The production of one kilogramme of beef requires approximately 15 thousand litres of water (93% green, 4% blue, 3% grey water footprint). There is a huge variation around this global average. The precise footprint of a piece of beef depends on factors such as the type of production system and the composition and origin of the feed of the cow.
  • The water footprint of a 150-gramme soy burger produced in the Netherlands is about 160 litres. A beef burger from the same country costs on average about 1000 litres.

– waterfootprint.org

 

  • It takes about 270 gallons of water to produce $1 worth of sugar. A single 5 lb. bag of refined white sugar uses about 88 gallons of water, most of it from the farming of sugar cane and sugar beets.
  • It takes 200 gallons of water to make $1 worth of pet food
  • It takes 140 gallons of water to make $1 worth of milk
  • It takes 95 liters of water to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity
  • Only about 10 gallons of water are required to extract enough natural gas to generate 1,000 kWh of electricity
  • By comparison, a coal-fired power plant delivering the same amount of energy would use about 140 gallons of water.
  • Biodiesel isn’t quite so green in the context of water consumption. More than 180,000 liters of water are required to produce enough soybean-based biodiesel to provide a home with a month’s worth of energy. This is because large amounts of water are required for irrigation of the soil in which the soybeans grow, then more water to turn the soybeans into biofuel.
  • It takes 2,900 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans (Most of this water is used in what’s known as “wet processing” as well as dyeing of fabric)
  • 29 percent of the total water footprint of the agricultural sector in the world is related to the production of animal products. One-third of that water is used to raise beef cattle.
  • It takes between 180 and 328 gallons of water to produce a 2-liter bottle of soda
  • It takes 20 gallons of water to make a pint of beer
  • It takes nearly 37 gallons of water to produce the ingredients to make a single cup of coffee
  • It takes about 39,000 gallons of water to produce the average domestic car, including the tires (Major water uses in the automotive manufacturing industry include surface treatment and coating, paint spray booths, washing/rinsing/hosing, cooling, air conditioning systems and boilers)

– news.thomasnet.com

 

  • Different countries might use a different amount of water to grow and produce different foods (wikipedia.org)
  • The average virtual water content of some selected products in the USA in m3/ton is:
  • Leather (bovine) – 14,190  m3/tons of virtual water
  • Beef – 13,193 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Sheep Meat –  5977 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Coffee (roasted) – 5790 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Cotton Lint –  5733 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Coffee (green) – 4864 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Pork – 3946 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Cheese –  3457 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Milk Powder – 3234 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Goat Meat –  3082 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Cotton Seed – 2535 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Chicken Meat –  2389 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Millet – 2143 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Rice (broken) – 1903 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Soybeans – 1869 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Rice (husked) – 1,656 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Eggs – 1510  m3/tons of virtual water
  • Rice (paddy) – 1275 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Wheat – 849 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Sorghum – 782 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Barley – 702 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Milk – 695 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Maize – 489 m3/tons of virtual water
  • Sugarcane – 103 m3/tons of virtual water

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Consider that the amount of water sufficient to irrigate one hectare of rice crop is the same that would cover the needs of 100 nomads with 450 heads of cattle over three years or 100 urban families over a two-year period.

– eniscuola.net

 

How Much Water Does It Take To Meet One Person’s Daily Dietary Needs?

  • … it takes roughly 3,000 liters of water to meet one person’s daily dietary needs, or approximately 1 liter per calorie

– huffingtonpost.com

 

  • Roughly, a liter of water is required to produce every calorie, so an adequate daily diet requires more than 2,000 liters of water to produce enough food for one person.

– water.jhu.edu

 

How Much Water Is Used To Make Chocolate

  • 17,196 Litres (1700L per 3.5 oz bar)

– earthmagazine.org

 

How Much Water It Takes To Make A Burger

  • One Hamburger – 2808 litres of water. Two hamburger buns are 85 litres, One 6oz beef patty is 2626 litres, one leaf of lettuce is 1 litre, one slice of tomato is 6 litres, one slice of cheese is 90 litres

– get-green-now.com

 

How Much Water It Takes To Produce Meat – Beef, Chicken, Pork and Sheep

  • The global average water footprint of chicken meat is about 4330 litre/kg. The water footprint of chicken meat is smaller than the footprints of meat from beef cattle (15400 litre/kg), sheep (10400 litre/kg), pig (6000 litre/kg) or goat (5500 litre/kg).

– waterfootprint.org

 

  • [a report found that] the amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of red meat can range from 13,000 to 43,000 liters of water; poultry requires about 3,500 liters of water; and pork needs about 6,000 liters. 

– huffingtonpost.com

 

How Much Water It Takes To Make Almonds, & Almond Milk

  • it takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce a single almond, or about which would translate to about 460 gallons of water per pound of almonds. In turn, it takes about two pounds of almonds to make one gallon of Almond Milk, or 920 gallons of water

– greenoptimistic.com

 

How Much Water It Takes To Make Cow Milk

  • it takes some 2,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of Cow Milk, roughly twice as much as that required to produce a gallon of Almond Milk

– greenoptimistic.com

 

How Much Water It Takes To Make A Pair Of Jeans

  • Jeans (cotton) – 2,108 gallons

– watercalculator.org

 

How Much Water Is Used To Make A Cotton Shirt

  • T Shirt (cotton) – 659 gallons

– watercalculator.org

 

How Much Water Is Used To Make A Mobile Phone/Smartphone

  • Smart Phone (mobile) – 3,190 gallons

– watercalculator.org

 

How Much Water Is Used To Make A Car

  • Mid Sized Car – 39,090 gallons of water

– motherjones.com

 

How Much Water Is Used To Make Paper

  • Ream Of White Paper – 1321 gallons of water

– motherjones.com

 

  • It takes about 3 gallons to make one sheet of paper (theatlantic.com)

 

How Much Water It Takes To Make A Plastic Bottle Or 1lb Of Plastic

  • it takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic
  • it takes at least twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water contained in the bottle

– watercalculator.org

 

Although, when including water in the supply chain (and not just the plastic bottle), that amount of water could be six or seven times what’s inside the bottle (npr.org)

 

How Much Water Is Used To Produce 1 kwh Of Electricity

  • The electricity sector uses 143 billion gallons of freshwater a day to run power plants.  Coal plants typically use 20 to 50 gallons of water to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity. And that doesn’t even take into account the water needed to mine the coal and store the coal waste.

– insideenergy.org

 

Where We Use Water Per Person, Per Day In Households

In terms of gallons of water per person, per day, in households, we use water in the following ways:

  • For Food (indirect on farms) – 510 gallons per day for food production. Includes irrigation and livestock
  • For Electricity (indirect at power plants) – 465 gallons per day for household electricity. Ranges from 30 to 600 depending on technology
  • For Direct Use – 100 gallons per day for direct use. Includes bathing, laundry, lawn and gardening etc.

– insideenergy.org

 

Which Industries Use The Most Water?

 

Read More About Water Footprints & Virtual Water

You can read more in the following guide about what a Water Footprint or Virtual Water is, how it’s calculated, and potential limitations to using it as a measurement benchmark:

 

Sources

1. https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste

2. https://www.watercalculator.org/water-use/the-hidden-water-in-everyday-products/

3. http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report16Vol1.pdf

4. https://www.watercalculator.org/footprints/what-is-a-water-footprint/

5. http://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/product-gallery/

6. http://waterfootprint.org/en/water-footprint/what-is-water-footprint/

7. https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/virtual-water-tracking-unseen-water-goods-and-resources

8. https://get-green-now.com/food-water-footprint-infographic/

9. https://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/waterstat/

10. http://www.gracelinks.org/1408/water-footprint-calculator

11. https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/virtual-water-tracking-unseen-water-goods-and-resources

12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_water

13. https://news.thomasnet.com/imt/2012/04/10/down-the-drain-industry-water-use

14. https://www.motherjones.com/food/2015/04/blue-jeans-cars-microchips-water-use/

15. http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2013/10/22/water-footprints-policy-relevant-or-one-dimensional-indicators/

16. http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2012/05/14/virtual-water-some-reservations/

17. https://www.motherjones.com/food/2015/04/blue-jeans-cars-microchips-water-use/

18. https://www.greenoptimistic.com/milk-problem-environment-20140908/#.W8Qa5RMzbR0

19. http://insideenergy.org/2014/07/09/energy-and-water-2-the-thirsty-house/

20. http://www.oliveaustralia.com.au/Olifax_Topics/Water_Requirements/water_requirements.html

21. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/10/28/241419373/how-much-water-actually-goes-into-making-a-bottle-of-water

22. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/it-takes-more-than-3-gallons-of-water-to-make-a-single-sheet-of-paper/258838/

23. http://www.eniscuola.net/en/argomento/water-knowledge/uses/water-waste-in-agriculture/

24. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielle-nierenberg/7-strategies-for-reducing_b_2886646.html

25. http://water.jhu.edu/index.php/magazine/agriculturemeeting-the-water-challenge

26. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/which-industries-use-the-most-water/

27. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/explaining-the-water-footprint-virtual-water-in-products-food-more/

28. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/the-visible-invisible-water-we-use-everyday/

Food Waste & Loss: Causes, Types Of Food We Waste, How Much Food We Waste + More

How Much Food Do We Waste Around The World Every Day, & Every Year

Food waste and food loss at different stages between the farm and when it arrives in your house or on your plate is a bigger issue than most think.

It occurs in different ways depending on whether you live in a developed or developing country.

In this guide we summarise how much food is wasted and lost daily and yearly, foods that are most commonly wasted, the effect of food waste, and more.

 

Summary – Food Waste & Food Loss

  • There is a difference between food loss and food waste
  • Food loss is essentially food lost in the production and distribution segments of the food supply chain
  • Food waste on the other hand is food that has spoiled or expired, mainly caused by economic behaviour, poor stock management or neglect.
  • American waste the equivalent to a third of the daily calories they consume per day. Globally, we waste one third to one half of the food we produce
  • Having said that, high quality diets tend to produce more food waste i.e. vegetables and fruits tend to be waste at a higher rate than processed foods
  • Developing countries tend to lose food at the pre consumer stage – on farms, and transporting and processing food (due to a lack of technology and cold food storage etc.)
  • Developed countries tend to waste a lot more food at the retail and consumer stage (due to cosmetic standards for food, attitudes towards the food waste etc.) 
  • Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries
  • The impact of wasted food is – wasted agricultural resources such as water, land, fertilizer, pesticide, soil etc., plus, unnecessary environmental impact and pollution – there is a waste food footprint to consider
  • More funding for better technology to prevent food loss pre consumer stage would minimise food loss in developed countries
  • In developed countries, there needs to be more awareness about the level of food waste, and a better effort by supermarkets and consumers to value and not waste food

 

What Is Food Loss, & Food Waste?

  • Food loss is “the decrease in quality or quantity of food,” the FAO reports. Within that is food waste, defined as food fit for human consumption that is thrown out or used in other ways.

– worldvision.org

 

  • Food waste or food loss is food that is discarded and lost uneaten.
  • Generally, food loss or food waste is food that is lost during any of the four stages of the food supply chain: (1) growers, (2) processors, (3) retailers, and (4) consumers.
  • Precise definitions are contentious, often defined on a situational basis
  • For example, the UN defines food loss and waste as:
  • Food Loss – the decrease in quantity or quality of food. Food loss in the production and distribution segments of the food supply chain is mainly a function of the food production and supply system or its institutional and legal framework.
  • Food Waste – (which is a component of food loss) is any removal of food from the food supply chain which is or was at some point fit for human consumption, or which has spoiled or expired, mainly caused by economic behaviour, poor stock management or neglect.
  • Food waste is a part of food loss, but the distinction between the two is not clearly defined
  • Food redirected to non-food chains (including animal feed, compost or recovery to bioenergy) is counted as food loss or waste.
  • Plants and animals produced for food contain ‘non-food parts’ which are not included in ‘food loss and waste’ (these inedible parts are sometimes referred to as ‘unavoidable food waste’

– Wikipedia.org

 

How Much Food Do We Waste Or Lose Every Day?

  • American households waste 150,000 tons of food each day – equal to a pound per person. It is also equal to about a third of the daily calories that each American consumes

– theguardian.com

 

  • US consumers wasted 422g of food per person daily, with 30 million acres of cropland used to produce this food every year. This accounts for 30% of daily calories available for consumption, one-quarter of daily food (by weight) available for consumption, and 7% of annual cropland acreage.

– journals.plos.org

 

  • Americans waste nearly a pound of food per person each day, but the exact amount of food we trash differs by how healthy your diet is. Higher quality diets were associated with higher levels of food waste. Between 2007-2014, consumers wasted nearly 150,000 tons of food per day

– sciencedaily.com

 

How Much Food Do We Waste Or Lose A Year?

  • Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

– fao.org

 

  • Global food loss and waste amount to between one-third and one-half of all food produced.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • As much as 50% of all food produced in the world ends up as waste every year according to figures from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
  • As much as 2bn tonnes of food are wasted every year – equivalent to 50% of all food produced – according to a report published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME)

– theguardian.com

 

  • Globally, enough food is wasted every year to feed nearly 2 billion people a 2,100 kcal/day diet

– journals.plos.org

 

Causes Of Food Waste & Food Loss

The causes of food waste or loss are numerous and occur at the stages of producing, processing, retailing and consuming:

 

Before Harvest

  • Food loss can occur after crop planting (and before harvesting) from pest infestation and severe weather
  • Temperature and precipitation (or lack of can cause food loss)
  • On average, farms in the US lose up to 6 billion pounds of crops every years because of unpredictable conditions

 

At Harvest

  • Machinery can cause waste if harvesters pick up unripe crop, or if they only pick up part of the crop
  • Economic factors can have an influence – such as standards for quality and appearance – this is usually called culling
  • Note that culling can also occur at the processing, production, retail and consumption stages
  • Farmers though can sometimes use crops that don’t come up to standard for animal feed or fertilizer

 

Food Processing

  • Food waste and loss at this stage can be difficult to estimate
  • In storage, pests and micro organisms contribute to loss – particularly in countries with higher heat and humidity
  • Handling of food, and shrinkage or weight and volume of food can create food waste and loss
  • At food processing level, it’s difficult to reduce food waste and loss without affecting the quality of the finished food products. Food safety standards need to be met and not compromised or risked, and this can lead to waste and loss

 

Retail

  • Packaging protects food from damage and preserves freshness in transportation to factories, and at retail level – this can prevent food waste and loss
  • In 2013 the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) performed research that they state suggests that the leading cause of food waste in America is due to uncertainty over food expiration dates, such as confusion in deciphering best before, sell-by or use-by dates.
  • Better regulation and clearer understanding of labelling on packaging might fix this
  • Retail stores throw away large quantities of food. Usually, this consists of items that have reached their either their best before, sell-by or use-by dates. Food that has passed the best before, and sell-by date, and even some food that passed the use-by date is still edible at the time of disposal, but stores have widely varying policies to handle the excess food. Some stores donate or redistribute food, while others don’t, and this food gets wasted
  • Retailers also contribute to waste as a result of their contractual arrangements with suppliers. Failure to supply agreed quantities renders farmers or processors liable to have their contracts cancelled. As a consequence, they plan to produce more than actually required to meet the contract, to have a margin of error. Surplus production is often simply disposed of.
  • How food looks can lead to food waste in stores. In the United States, an estimated six billion pounds of produce is wasted each year because of its appearance.
  • The USDA publishes guidelines for the appearance of different foods
  • Some foods are safe and edible, but don’t meet marketing or appearance standards, and are thrown out
  • The fish industry also contributes to the annual amount of food waste because of cosmetic standards that the fish are held up to. Nearly “2.3 million tonnes of fish (are) discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year.” Approximately 40 to 60 percent of “all fish caught in Europe is discarded – either because they are the wrong size or species.”

 

Consumption

  • Consumers are directly and indirectly responsible for wasting a lot of food, which could for a large part be avoided if they were willing to accept suboptimal food (SOF) that deviates in sensory characteristics (odd shapes, discolourations) or has a best-before date that is approaching or has passed, but is still perfectly fine to eat.

– wikipedia.org

 

There can be several causes or reasons for food waste

  • Post harvest and processing techniques that don’t protect the food are a major cause in developing countries
  • In developing countries, the causes are usually at retail and consumer level – wasting food and throwing it out after buying or cooking
  • Vegetables and fruits are the main food group wasted – people don’t want to buy funny looking fruits and vegetables in shops, these food groups go off quicker, and people in general either don’t store their food at home properly, or they just throw it out

 

How Do We Waste Or Lose Food – At What Level Or Stage Of Food Production & Consumption? (Where & How We Lose Food)

  • In developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.
  • At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.
  • In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities. Strengthening the supply chain through the direct support of farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste.
  • In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behaviour of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries. The study identified a lack of coordination between actors in the supply chain as a contributing factor. Farmer-buyer agreements can be helpful to increase the level of coordination. Additionally, raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste.

– fao.org

 

  • In poor countries, most of the food waste is on the farm or on its way to market. In South Asia, for instance, half of all the cauliflower that’s grown is lost because there’s not enough refrigeration.
  • Tomatoes get squished if they are packed into big sacks. In Southeast Asia, lettuce spoils on the way from farms to city supermarkets. Very little food in poor countries is thrown out by consumers. It’s too precious.
  • In wealthier countries like the US and Canada, around 40% of wasted food is thrown out by consumers

– nytimes.com

 

  • The food production and consumption stages from farm to plate are – agriculture, post harvest, processing, retail, and consumption.
  • By weight, the following %’s of food are wasted or lost at each stage in the following regions:
    • North America and Oceania – 33% (Agriculture), 11% (Post Harvest), 10 (Processing), 8 (Retail), 39 (Consumption)
    • Europe – 36%, 11%, 12%, 7%, 34%
    • Japan, Korea & China – 27%, 20%, 9%, 13%, 31%
    • North Africa, & West & Central Asia – 30%, 22%, 17%, 15%, 15%
    • Latin America – 40%, 22%, 15%, 12%, 11%
    • South & SouthEast Asia – 31%, 34%, 10%, 16%, 9%
    • Subsaharan Africa – 35%, 36%, 13%, 13%, 4%

– nytimes.com

 

  • In low-income countries, most food loss happens due to limited harvesting capabilities, poor storage, or deficiencies in transportation, processing, or infrastructure.
  • In medium- and high-income countries, food loss more often happens at the consumer’s end — thrown out at the supermarket, restaurant, or at home.

– worldvision.org

 

  • The different stages of food supply include Harvesting, Manufacturing, Distribution, Retail and Consumption
  • Post-harvest and processing is where 40% of food wastage occurs in developing countries.
  • Retail and wholesale accounts for about 5% of wastage. But this is only what stores actually put in the bin themselves and does not take into account the influence they have on waste in other parts of the supply chain. For example, they might reject the produce of a farmer or motivate consumers to buy more than they actually need.
  • A total of 40% of wastage in rich countries occurs at the household level. People in these countries throw away 10 times more food compared to households in developing countries.

– eatresponsibly.eu

 

  • The IME estimate that 30-50% (1.2-2bn tonnes) of all food produced is “lost before reaching a human stomach”.
  • The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) blames the “staggering” new figures in its analysis on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, along with “poor engineering and agricultural practices”, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities.
  • Major supermarkets have also been blamed for food waste by rejecting crops of edible fruit and vegetables which don’t meet their exacting standards for their physical characteristics (such as size and colour). Up to 30% of the UK’s vegetable crop is never harvested due to this type of practice the report claims.

– theguardian.com

 

  • US consumers wasted 422 g (95% CI: 409–434 g)–nearly one pound–of food per person per day from 2007–2014.
  • Fruits and vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes accounted for 39% of food waste, followed by dairy (17%), meat and mixed meat dishes (14%), and grains and grain mixed dishes (12%).
  • Remaining foods and dishes each accounted for less than 10% of total food waste: other foods and dishes (mostly candy, soft drinks, and other beverages), salty snacks, soup, potatoes and mixed potato dishes, nuts and seeds, Mexican dishes, eggs and mixed egg dishes, and table oils and salad dressing.
  • Nearly 26% (95% CI: 25–26%) of food was wasted by US consumers every day from 2007–2014.
  • Soup, fruits and vegetables and mixed dishes, and other foods and dishes had the highest waste rate (approximately 30% each).
  • Nuts and seeds, potatoes and mixed potato dishes, and table oils and salad dressing had the lowest rates of food waste (12–18% each). Over 800 kcal (795–840 kcal) were wasted per person per day, representing about 29% of total daily energy intake.
  • Of all nutrients, carotenoids had the greatest percent waste (31%) and vitamin D had the lowest percent waste (25%)

– journals.plos.org

 

What Foods Do We Waste Or Lose The Most?

  • Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
  • Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.

– fao.org

 

  • Of 22 food groups studied, fruits, vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes (39 percent of total) were wasted most — followed by dairy (17 percent), and meat and mixed meat dishes (14 percent).

– sciencedaily.com

 

  • Higher quality diets were associated with greater amounts of food waste … This is largely due to fruits and vegetables, which are health-promoting.
  • Fruits and vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes accounted for 39% of food waste, followed by dairy (17%), meat and mixed meat dishes (14%), and grains and grain mixed dishes (12%). Remaining foods and dishes each accounted for less than 10% of total food waste: other foods and dishes (mostly candy, soft drinks, and other beverages), salty snacks, soup, potatoes and mixed potato dishes, nuts and seeds, Mexican dishes, eggs and mixed egg dishes, and table oils and salad dressing.

– journals.plos.org

 

  • Almost half of all fruit and vegetables produced are wasted (that’s 3.7 trillion apples).

– ozharvest.org

 

  • Globally, 45% of produced fruit and vegetables, roots and tubers are wasted. They are a highly perishable food group
  • Globally, 35% of harvested fish and seafood is wasted
  • Globally, 30% of produced cereals are wasted. The most produced cereals are corn, wheat and rice. Wheat and rice are the most consumed crops by humans in the world, as corn is used mainly as animal feed. Wheat in particular is found in an enormous range of foods, from bread to noodles, crackers and biscuits.
  • Globally, 20% of produced meat is wasted. Wasting meat is particularly troublesome because it is the most resource-intensive of foods. Not only is a lot of water and land thrown away with the meat, but also the life of an animal.
  • Globally, 20% of produced dairy products are wasted

– eatresponsibly.eu

 

In terms of nutrients that are wasted the most:

  • Of all nutrients, carotenoids had the greatest percent waste (31%) and vitamin D had the lowest percent waste (25%).

– journals.plos.org

 

How Much Money Does Food Waste & Loss Cost Us?

  • Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.

– fao.org

 

  • Dairy products account for the largest share of food wasted, about $91 billion.

– nytimes.com

 

  • One third of all food produced is lost or wasted –around 1.3 billion tonnes of food –costing the global economy close to $940 billion each year.

– ozharvest.org

 

  • one-third of the 4bn tonnes of food produced each year is wasted, costing the global economy nearly $750bn (£530bn) annually.

– toogoodtogo.co.uk

 

  • Loss and wastage occur at all stages of the food supply chain or value chain.

– Wikipedia.org

 

Food Waste & Loss – Developing vs Developed Countries

  • Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tonnes.
  • Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
  • Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year.
  • Total per capita food production for human consumption is about 900 kg a year in rich countries, almost twice the 460 kg a year produced in the poorest regions.

– fao.org

 

  • In low-income countries, most loss occurs during production, while in developed countries much food – about 100 kilograms (220 lb) per person per year – is wasted at the consumption stage.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • In developing countries, it is estimated that 400–500 calories per day per person are going to waste, while in developed countries 1,500 calories per day per person are wasted. In the former, more than 40% of losses occur at the postharvest and processing stages, while in the latter, more than 40% of losses occur at the retail and consumer levels. The total food waste by consumers in industrialized countries (222 million tonnes or 218,000,000 long tons or 245,000,000 short tons) is almost equal to the entire food production in sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes or 226,000,000 long tons or 254,000,000 short tons).
  • Wikipedia also has a table for food waste by region, and the different stages waste is created at
  • They also have waste of individual countries
  • You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste

– Wikipedia.org

 

How Much Food Is Wasted Or Lost In The United States?

  • Refer to the above American figures for daily and yearly food waste

 

As a guide:

  • the United States loses or wastes 133 billion pounds of food per year, the USDA reported in its 2014 report on food loss. That’s 31 percent of the country’s annual available food supply, or 429 pounds per person, per year. Americans’ food loss was worth about $161.6 billion at retail prices in 2010, the USDA says.

– worldvision.org

 

  • About 40% of all food produced in the USA is waste
  • Food waste has increased in the USA since 1974 – from 900 calories in 1974, to around 1400 calories today. That is 150,000,000,000,000 calories each year
  • 2 Billion people could be fed for a year with the amount the USA throws away each year

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • In the USA, 12.7% of all reported waste is food scraps
  • Also in the USA – 60% of food is wasted at consumer level, 20% at production level and 20% at distribution level

– Wikipedia.org

 

How Much Food Is Wasted Or Lost In The UK?

  • In the UK, consumers throw away ten million tonnes of food every year – and many millions of tonnes of that food could have been eaten. That shocking statistic is enough to save the average UK family £700 a year and provide six meals a week.

– toogoodtogo.co.uk

 

  • About 8.3 million tonnes of food is wasted by UK households every year
  • About 30.8% of all food purchased in the UK is thrown away

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • The UK pays for but does not eat up to 11.3 Billion pounds of good food each year. This is twice the amount the UK government spends on foreign economic aid
  • The average person throws away 70kg of food a year
  • It costs 466 pounds each year in terms of wasted food costs
  • The UK wastes 4.8 billion grapes, 2.6 billion slices of bread, 1.9 billion potatoes, 2.6 billion apples, 1 billion tomatoes, 775 million bread rolls, 440 million sausages, 200 million bacon rashers, 120 million meat meals, 282 million yoghurts, and 259 million chocolates and sweets
  • In the UK 1.2 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year in it’s packaging.
  • 570 million UK pounds of whole and unopened fruit is thrown away each year
  • 277 million UK pounds of whole and unopened veg is thrown away each year
  • 333 million UK pounds of unopened bakery goods is thrown away each year

 

How Much Food Is Wasted Or Lost In Australia?

  • The Government estimates food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion each year.
  • Over 5 million tonnes of food ends up as landfill, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
  • One in five shopping bags end up in the bin = $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year.
  • 35% of the average household bin is food waste.
  • Over 644,000 people now receive food relief each month, one third are children.

– ozharvest.org

 

  • The average Australian throws away one in five grocery bags of food each week – that’s around $1000 of food thrown in the bin every year.

– goodfood.com.au

 

Environmental Effects Of Food Waste & Loss (Carbon, Water, Land, Chemicals Like Fertilizer & Pesticides, Plastic Pollution etc.)

  • Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.

– fao.org

 

  • With the 150,000 tons of food that American households throw out each day, the volume of discarded food is the equivalent to the yearly use of 30m acres of land, 780m pounds of pesticide and 4.2tn gallons of irrigated water. Rotting food also clogs up landfills and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
  • Fruit and vegetables require less land to grow than than other foods, such as meat, but require a large amount of water and pesticides.

– theguardian.com

 

  • Higher quality diets were associated with … greater amounts of wasted irrigation water and pesticides, but less cropland waste. This is largely due to fruits and vegetables, which are health-promoting and require small amounts of cropland, but require substantial amounts of agricultural inputs.
  • Annually, from 2007 to 2014, wasted food had the following resource usage stats…
  • Croplands – Annually, wasted food was grown on the equivalent of over 30 million acres (95% CI: 29.3–30.8 million acres) of cropland, representing 7.7% (7.5–7.9%) of all harvested cropland in the US. Hay (8.9 million acres, 6.9–9.2 million acres) and feed grains and oilseeds (7.7 million acres, 7.6–7.9 million acres) accounted for over half (56%) of all cropland used to produce wasted food. Over 60% (58–64%) of land used to grow fruit was wasted, followed by vegetables (56%, 52–59%), and sweeteners (30%, 29–31%). Cropland categories with the lowest proportion of waste were nuts (2.3%, 2.1–2.4%) and legumes (2.5%, 2.4–2.6%).
  • Irrigation Water – Nearly 4.2 trillion gallons (95% CI: 4.1–4.3 trillion gallons) of irrigation water were applied to cropland that was used to produce uneaten food. The majority of wasted irrigation water was applied to cropland used to produce fruits (1.3 trillion gallons), vegetables (1.05 trillion gallons), and hay (1.01 trillion gallons).
  • Pesticides – Nearly 780 million pounds (759–797 million pounds) of pesticides were applied to wasted cropland, mostly to cropland used to produce fruit (337 million pounds), feed grains and oilseeds (158 million pounds), and vegetables (133 million pounds).
  • Nitrogen Fertilizer – Approximately 1.8 billion pounds (1.8–1.9 billion pounds) of nitrogen fertilizer, 1.5 billion pounds (1.4–1.5 billion pounds) of phosphorus (P2O5) fertilizer, and 2.3 billion pounds (2.2–2.3 billion pounds) of potash (K2O) fertilizer were applied to wasted cropland, largely attributable to cropland used to produce feed grains and oilseeds and hay.

– journals.plos.org

 

  • Researchers estimate that food waste corresponded with the use of 30 million acres of land (7 percent of total US cropland) and 4.2 trillion gallons of water annually.
  • Consumer food waste corresponded to harvests produced with the use of 780 million pounds of pesticide and 1.8 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer, annually.
  • Healthier diets used less cropland than lower quality diets, but led to greater waste in irrigation water and pesticides, which are used at higher rates on average for growing fruits and vegetables

– sciencedaily.com

 

  • Wasting that much means a lot of water is wasted, too — the equivalent of three times the size of Lake Geneva

– nytimes.com

 

  • 8% of greenhouse gases heating the planet are caused by food waste.
  • If food waste was a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after USA and China.
  • Eliminating global food waste would save 4.4 million tonnes of C02 a year, the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road.
  • Throwing away one burger wastes the same amount of water as a 90-minute shower.

– ozharvest.org

 

  • Australian foodservice businesses produce more than 250,000 tonnes of food waste every year, generating around 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO2 equivalents) annually. On average, cafes and restaurants bin 120g of every plate served, the equivalent of half a muffin or a small steak.

– goodfood.com.au

 

  • Food waste and organic material that goes to landfills…
  • People assume it’s similar to compost and going back to the soil but they’re two totally different processes.
  • In a worm farm or compost system, there’s a lot of aeration, which has a big impact on the process of breaking down food and so on, whereas in landfill it gets covered over.
  • In landfill, some of the gas it creates as the food starts to degrade is methane, which is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

– goodfood.com.au

 

  • Food waste represents thousands and thousands of litres of wasted water from paddock to plate – for example, just 1kg of wasted beef equates to 50,000 litres of water going straight down the drain.

– goodfood.com.au

 

  • Land and water is used in harvesting food
  • Fertilizer and pesticides are used in harvesting
  • There are hidden energy and carbon costs from machinery and transport
  • There are indirect costs like the packaging and plastic that protect and store food
  • Food in landfills releases methane when it starts rotting, as there is not enough oxygen in the landfills for the food to decompose normally like when we put it in our garden compost. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas that is over 25 times more potent than CO2.
  • A total of 1.4 billion ha of land was needed to grow the amount of food that is annually wasted, an area three times the size of the European Union!
  • Water is a fundamental resource for food production. One apple alone requires 125 l to grow. If we order a 200 g chicken steak for lunch, we are asking the waiter for 865 l of water. If the meat is instead beef, we are asking for 3,083 l of water, which is enough to grow 10 kg of potatoes.
  • 750 billion – 1 trillion dollars are thrown away each year along with all the food we waste. That’s a huge amount of money! But if we count the value of the environment that has been destroyed to make the food we throw away, then we can add an additional 700 billion dollars to the bill.
  • The carbon footprint of wasted food is 3.3 Gt of greenhouse gases annually. If all wasted food in the world was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA.

– eatresponsibly.eu

 

  • The publication entitled ‘Global food: waste not, want not’ also aims to highlight the wastage of energy, land and water. Approximately 3.8tn cubic metres of water is used by humans annually with 70% being consumed by the global agriculture sector. The amount of water wasted globally in growing crops that never reach the consumer is estimated at 550bn cubic metres.

– theguardian.com

 

  • Food waste in the USA accounts for…
  • 1/4 of all freshwater consumption
  • The consumption of 300 million barrels of oil a year
  • If we stop wasting food, the c02 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road. That’ll save 15 million tonnes of C02 equivalent in the UK
  • 20% of the UK’s Greenhouse Gases are associated with food production, distribution and storage

– Wikipedia.org

 

  • In countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, food scraps constitute around 19% of the waste dumped in landfills
  • Food which goes uneaten can account for vast quantities of water waste, with food waste being the largest area the average US citizen contributes to water waste.

– Wikipedia.org

 

Is There Enough Food Produced In The World To Feed Everyone?

  • Yes, there is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone

– ozharvest.org

 

  • 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted a year! This amount of food could feed around 3 billion people each year. That exceeds the number of all the hungry people worldwide by nearly 4 times!

– eatresponsibly.eu

 

World Hunger, & Re-Directing Food That Is Usually Wasted Or Lost To Those In Need

  • One in nine people do not have enough food to eat, that’s 793 million people who are undernourished.
  • If one quarter of the food currently lost or wasted could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people.

– ozharvest.org

 

  • It’s estimated the world produces enough food waste — about 1.4 billion tons — to feed as many as 2 billion people each year. That’s roughly one-third of the global food supply.

– worldvision.org

 

  • About 815 million people do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active life, and nearly 25 percent of people in developing countries are undernourished
  • In a world of 7 billion people, set to grow to 9 billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense — economically, environmentally, and ethically

– worldvision.org

 

  • A lot of our food is produced in countries where the people don’t have enough to eat themselves.
  • For example, most of the green beans for the EU market are produced in Kenya. This is a country where water is scarce and because of the bean farms many people and schools do not have access to water.
  • It is particularly sad to realize that such precious resources are also wasted when we throw food away.
  • Even more incredible is that wasting occurs in industrialized countries that account for only 15% of the world population but consume a majority of the world’s resources, especially from developing countries.

– eatresponsibly.eu

 

  • The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) points out that if we tackled the problem of food waste, we could feed 9 billion people a day

– toogoodtogo.co.uk

 

  • It is estimated that the food wasted by the USA and Europe could feed the world 3 times over

– Wikipedia.org

 

What Are Reasonable Goals For Reducing Food Waste?

  • About a third of food waste consists of truly inedible food, but the rest could have been eaten. [so, we know that one third of food waste can’t realistically be saved]
  • Some studies indicate that we could reasonably cut current food waste rates by half, or from about 24 percent to 12 percent.
  • Halving food waste would also roughly halve its environmental impacts. 

– environmentreports.com

 

What Can Be Done To Reduce Food Waste & Loss? – Solutions

  • Attention needs to be paid to food quality, as well as food wastage – without sacrificing food safety
  • Educate consumers on fruit and vegetable storage
  • Supermarkets can do more to reduce food wastage – just four of the 10 largest grocery chains in the US have specific food waste reduction commitments. A further four out of the 10 don’t prevent the waste of food considered too cosmetically “imperfect” to sell. Walmart achieved the highest grade, a B, while Aldi US was the worst. Trader Joe’s, Target and Whole Foods all did poorly, ranked with a D.
  • There can be better funding for food recovery and wider use of composting, which is only available to about one in 10 Americans

– theguardian.com

 

  • Simultaneous efforts to improve diet quality and reduce food waste are necessary. Increasing consumers’ knowledge about how to prepare and store fruits and vegetables will be one of the practical solutions to reducing food waste.
  • More research can be done on the relationship between food waste, diet quality, nutrient waste, and multiple measures of sustainability: use of cropland, irrigation water, pesticides, and fertilizers.
  • … consumers should increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables and simultaneously waste less of them.

– journals.plos.org

 

  • Education on preparing and storing fresh fruits and vegetables, and knowing the difference between abrasion and spoilage, is critical.
  • Other policy efforts underway range from revising sell-by dates and labels for consistency, food planning and preparation education.
  • Low quality diets may produce less food waste, but they come with a range of negative impacts like low nutritional value and higher rates of cropland wasted – so food waste solutions must focus on higher food quality and less waste

– sciencedaily.com

 

  • Food costs less in developed countries and is in abundance. It is wasted more regularly at the consumption stage. It isn’t valued for what it is worth. Attitudes towards the value of food can be changed in developed countries
  • Some of the most basic fixes are at the bottom end of the supply chain: Metal grain silos have helped against fungus ruining grain stocks in countries in Africa. In India, the F.A.O. is encouraging farmers to collect tomatoes in plastic crates instead of big sacks; they squish and rot less.
  • Higher up the food chain, supermarkets are trying to make a dent by changing the way best-before labels are used — making them specific to various food categories to discourage consumers from throwing out food that is safe to eat — or trying to sell misshapen fruits and vegetables rather than discarding them.
  • Some countries are trying to regulate food waste. France requires retailers to donate food that is at risk of being thrown out but is still safe to eat. European Union lawmakers are pushing for binding targets to curb food waste by 50 percent by 2030, echoing a United Nations development goal; negotiations have been underway since June. Some countries pushing back on the idea of continent wide targets.
  • Cutting waste would have the same impact, if not more, than changing diets or what we eat

– nytimes.com

 

  • Global food waste is a massive social, economic and environmental problem that can’t simply be put back on large businesses to fix, it needs every individual and individual business to work together to resolve it.

– goodfood.com.au

 

  • Reducing food waste within food businesses (like restaurants for example)…
  • Food businesses may be able to reduce their food waste by up to 40%
  • This can be done generally by more efficient preparation processes, reusing items typically thrown away, and ordering smaller amounts of fresh food more frequently
  • Majority of food waste is occurring out the front, on our plates. The solution to this is smaller portions or plate sizes, and businesses can charge less for the meal too
  • The most common things left on plates are those considered to be sides – things like chips, salad, garnish. We can minimize these things too
  • Businesses can give customers food leftover bags to take uneaten food home
  • Businesses are also becoming more proactive in dealing with waste with methods like composting and worm farms.
  • Some herbs and chillis can be grown on-site too
  • An alternative method of disposing of food waste is with a food waste dehydrator. “Similar to composting but much faster, they reduce the size of the waste by about 80% in 24 hours by using extreme heat and microbes. It produces this beautiful, nutrient-rich material which can then be used as a soil additive just like a compost.” Businesses can even sell the material back to their inner-city customers to use in their own herb gardens or small courtyard gardens.
  • Another obvious – and socially rewarding – option for businesses dealing with surplus food is to donate it to people who need it most. Food rescue organisations such as Oz Harvest, FareShare, Second Bite and Food Bank are all on hand to rescue and redistribute quality surplus food, while apps such as Yume (http://theyumeapp.com/) and Olio can also be used by businesses (Olio can also be used by households) to notify people of excess stock that would otherwise go to waste.
  • Reducing food waste in households…
  • Cook to recipes, go shopping with a list, start meal planning. Again, buy small amounts of fresh produce more frequently, because fruit and veg are the number one things that get thrown away.
  • The second highest thing that gets thrown away by households is leftovers. Dish up an extra serving and put this straight in the fridge of freezer so you have a ready-made meal for lunch or dinner whenever you need it – it’s ideal for single households or time-poor professionals.
  • You should also ensure you’re storing your food correctly. Keep food in airtight containers or jars and take care when storing fruit and vegetables.
  • A freezer is a great option for storing meat, bread and leftovers, but you might not also be aware that your freezer is also perfect for extending the life of those vegetable items you often don’t get through, such as garlic and ginger. Herbs can also be frozen in olive oil in an ice cube container, ready to be thrown into a meal while you’re cooking.
  • People can also be mindful of use by dates – don’t throw the food out before the use by date

– goodfood.com.au

 

  • Organisations like World Vision and the THRIVE program help farmers in Tanzania and other countries access improved seed varieties, fertilizers, and storage facilities. World Vision staff there teach farmers proven methods to increase crop yield. They help communities work together to more effectively move their products to market.

– worldvision.org

 

  • Simply cut down on food waste at the individual level
  • Store food properly at home
  • Be aware of food expiration dates
  • Have smaller portions of food
  • Be aware of food waste pyramid – reduce waste, feed people in need, feed livestock, compost, bio fuel, and disposal of food

– eatresponsibly.eu

 

  • Campaigns from advisory and environmental groups
  • Concentrated media attention on the subject
  • As alternatives to landfill, food waste can be composted to produce soil and fertilizer, fed to animals, or used to produce energy or fuel
  • Consumers can plan their food purchases and only buy what they know they will eat
  • Smart packaging that indicates more clearly when the food is spoiled can be introduced
  • Farmers can work with the government or other businesses to make use of surplus food – n initiative in Curitiba, Brazil called Cambio Verde allows farmers to provide surplus produce (produce they would otherwise discard due to too low prices) to people that bring glass and metal to recycling facilities (to encourage further waste reduction).
  • Food waste and organic waste can be separated in municipal waste collection, and disposed of in a beneficial way
  • Food waste and organic waste can more often be fed to animals
  • Food waste can be used for composting, vermi-composting and fertiliser
  • It is estimated that one business can save up to $30000 annually on garbage disposal costs with the implementation of the required composting
  • Anaerobic digestion is another options for food waste
  • Commercial liquid food waste is a problem at the moment – if it can be treated, this is another form of waste that can be minimised
  • the UK observed a 21% decrease in avoidable household food waste over the course of 5 years with consumer marketing and education on food waste

– Wikipedia.org

 

Sources

1. http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/18/americans-waste-food-fruit-vegetables-study

3. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0195405

4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180418141508.htm

5. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/climate/food-waste-emissions.html

6. https://www.ozharvest.org/what-we-do/environment-facts/

7. https://www.goodfood.com.au/good-living/how-much-food-do-you-waste-20160909-grd5gk

8. https://www.eatresponsibly.eu/en/foodwaste/1#section-bin

9. https://toogoodtogo.co.uk/en-gb/blog/where-do-we-waste-the-most-food

10. https://www.worldvision.org/hunger-news-stories/food-waste

11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste

12. https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste 

13. http://www.environmentreports.com/waste-not-want-not/#section2

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