75 Grams: The Carbon Footprint of One Bag of Potato Crisps
photo by tokyofortwo via flickr
In an effort to raise awareness of global warming, Japan is planning to label a range of consumer goods to show the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted in their manufacture, delivery and disposal. The project, the exact scope of which has yet to be finalized, is expected to begin in April 2009, AFP reports.
Labeling products with their carbon footprint could be a good way to make people more aware of the environmental impact of things which they otherwise wouldn't think twice about. Here in New York certain restaurants have to display the calorie content of their food, and seeing that the brownie you want to buy has nearly a third of your day's recommended consumption sure makes you think twice about buying it. Carbon labeling could have a similar effect. Here's the product example that caught my eye:
The Weight of Our Consumption
In the example given in the original article, a bag of potato crisps (of an unspecified size) emits 75 grams (2.63 ounces of carbon dioxide). In percentages, here’s how that breaks down:
44% — growing the potatoes
30% — processing those potatoes into crispy form
15% — packaging
9% — delivering them to stores
2% — disposal of the empty packaging
I’m sure intrepid TreeHugger readers will want to have at those percentages and discuss ways to reduce that 75 grams of carbon emissions. It seems like each of those percentages can be shaved down a bit. What do people think?
Emissions Could Probably Be Reduced at Every Stage
Certainly we can knock off some of those delivery emissions by manufacturing closer to the point of sale. If the potatoes were harvested using less carbon-intensive methods that could probably be reduced as well. Processing? Renewable energy could reduce that as well.
Or we could just start making our own which would eliminate packaging emissions, probably a good deal of the processing emissions and part of the delivery emissions straight away.