Update (August 2015): The Food Carbon Emissions Calculator has been expanded significantly and now includes data for 296 raw and processed food commodities. The majority of the data is for North American production and all the data are derived from the CarbonScopeData LCI database. This data set was previously available only to researchers and consultants in the food LCA field, but is now available to the public for free in an easy-to-use form. Our hope is that this will help advance the cause of food sustainability through environmental education and other avenues.
  1. Why is CleanMetrics providing this free calculator?

  2. Where do the food carbon emissions data come from?

  3. What was the reasoning behind including specific food commodities in the calculator?

  4. What are the underlying methodologies used in creating the emissions data?

  5. Are there any other assumptions that I should know about?

  6. Does the calculator include data on organic food production?

  7. What if I need data on additional food commodities and production/processing methods?

  8. What if I need data on packaging or cooking?

  9. Can I use the emissions data from this calculator in my teaching or research?

  10. Can I use the emissions data from this calculator for commercial purposes?

  11. What can businesses do to reduce emissions in our food system?

  12. What can consumers do to reduce emissions in our food system?

  13. How can I contact CleanMetrics with questions, comments or ideas?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is 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 analytical tools. These products are not available for free – we license these products to businesses, universities and other organizations. However, 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.

 

Where do 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 FoodCarbonScope 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.

 

What was the reasoning behind including specific food commodities in the calculator?

We looked at several sources (such as the USDA, About Seafood, and others) to come up with a list of about 31 food commodities that are commonly consumed in the US. 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.

 

What are the underlying methodologies used in creating the emissions data?

Our emissions data and results are consistent with current international standards (ISO 14040 series, PAS 2050) for life cycle assessment and product carbon footprint analysis. Baseline emissions from agriculture, livestock and waste disposal are calculated using the IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories.

    

Are there 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 as needed.

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.

 

Does the 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 data.

 

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 licensing.

 

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?

Any commercial use requires the purchase of a license. Please contact us to discuss further.

 

What can 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 to discuss further.

 

What can consumers do to reduce emissions in our food system?

We are not in a position to offer advice to consumers. However, there are clearly a number of actions that consumers can take to reduce food emissions – including choosing foods that produce lower emissions and reducing food waste. 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 foodemissions@cleanmetrics.com. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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