Why is CleanMetrics
providing this free calculator?
Where do the food carbon emissions data come
What was the reasoning behind including specific
food commodities in the calculator?
What are the underlying methodologies used in
creating the emissions data?
Are there any other assumptions that I should
Does the calculator include data on organic food
What if I need data on additional food
commodities and production/processing methods?
What if I need data on packaging or cooking?
Can I use the emissions data from this
calculator in my teaching or research?
Can I use the emissions data from this
calculator for commercial purposes?
What can businesses do to reduce emissions in
our food system?
What can consumers do to reduce emissions in our
How can I contact CleanMetrics with questions,
comments or ideas?
CleanMetrics providing this free calculator?
We routinely receive inquiries from teachers, researchers and students about
accessing our detailed
database of food carbon (greenhouse gas) emissions and using our
food LCA tool. There is clearly a strong need for simplified food emissions data that everyone can access for free, and a calculator that demonstrates the effect of a few variables in the food system that consumers can control. We are providing this calculator as a free service (and a first step) to help fill that need for public information and understanding. We are open to other ideas on how we can help advance the cause of food sustainability.
the food carbon emissions data come from?
The underlying data used in the calculator (known as life-cycle inventory data)
come from our database,
CarbonScopeData, and life-cycle assessment results generated using our
software. Over 95% of the agricultural data included in the calculator is for
North American production. The calculator basically provides a dashboard to
serve up the detailed results calculated using FoodCarbonScope.
the reasoning behind including specific food commodities in the calculator?
We originally looked at several sources (such as the
About Seafood, and others) to come up with a list of about 31 food
commodities that are commonly consumed in the US. We later expanded this to 296 raw and processed food commodities. For each of these commodities,
we picked a typical North American production system or an average of several
North American production systems (in one or more agricultural regions) to
calculate the production emissions.
the underlying methodologies used in creating the emissions data?
Our emissions data and results are consistent with current
international standards (ISO
for life cycle assessment and product carbon footprint analysis. Baseline
emissions from agriculture, livestock and waste disposal are calculated using
IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories.
any other assumptions that I should know about?
We assumed that all commodities would require 100 miles of local transport (in a
single-unit truck). A couple of commodities require ocean transport because they
are not produced in the contiguous US or Canada. In addition, the user can
select the transport distance for the longest road segment via semi-trailer
truck – the default distance is 1400 miles. Commodities are refrigerated or
frozen in transit
For waste disposal, we assumed that anaerobic landfills would be used in a
temperate/wet climate zone, with 21% of the landfill methane flared and 23.25%
of the methane converted to electricity.
If you are composting all of your
food waste, you can set the waste percentage to 0 to get a close approximation
of the overall impact of waste disposal.
calculator include data on organic food production?
Yes, the calculator includes limited data on
organic food production.
What if I
need data on additional food commodities and production/processing methods?
You can license additional data from our
database, or engage us to analyze specific commodities and production methods
for you. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to provide any additional free
What if I
need data on packaging or cooking?
We do have a large amount of data on packaging,
food processing and commercial cooking appliances, which are available through
Can I use
the emissions data from this calculator in my teaching or research?
Yes, absolutely. Please cite this website in any
written material. Also be aware that this calculator is provided “as is” without
any warranties or technical support.
Can I use
the emissions data from this calculator for commercial purposes?
Yes, but without any technical support or consulting.
businesses do to reduce emissions in our food system?
Businesses that are part of the food system –
from agricultural producers and processors to distributors, retailers and
restaurants – can do much to reduce emissions. Possible actions include better
agricultural practices, higher energy efficiency in processing, improved
packaging, reduced waste throughout the supply chain, more efficient
distribution networks, enabling more informed consumer choice through product
labeling, and so on.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss climate-friendly business strategies.
consumers do to reduce emissions in our food system?
The two biggest things consumers can do is to focus on their choice of proteins and work on reducing food waste (see our article specifically addressing this). You can use this calculator to see the relative climate impacts of different kinds of proteins in your diet and think about consuming the most climate-friendly combination of proteins that you can. According to the USDA, over 30 percent of most food commodities are wasted at the consumer level. For every pound of food wasted, there are potentially avoidable emissions from agricultural production, processing, packaging, transport, cooking and waste disposal. Considering some of the difficulties in choosing foods that are less harmful to the environment, reducing food waste might well be one of the easier and more concrete actions that consumers can take. And you can use this calculator to figure out the total impact of food waste for many common food commodities (excluding packaging and cooking).
How can I
contact CleanMetrics with questions, comments or ideas?
Please contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions, comments or
interesting ideas, we want to hear from you. We will do our best to respond to
your messages and ideas.