Our friends at Heura recently made (what seemed controversial) a decision to switch their packaging from cardboard to plastic. WHAT? Why? We hear you cry. Isn't that the thing we've been trying to avoid?
Well, it turns out their packaging, which was made from 87% recycled cardboard was not as eco-friendly as they thought. GASP
In fact, the resources used and CO2e produced whilst packaging these tasty meat-free alternatives in cardboard was greater than the impact of their new and improved recycled PET tray and plastic lid. Who'd have thought? Let's take a look at the stats from Heura below:
But when considering the environmental impact of our supermarket shops, we should look beyond the packaging, as the biggest impact the food industry has on the climate is food production itself. A 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that between 21-37% of global emissions are derived from food systems.
Of course, the packaging is a tangible factor but a whopping 71% of food emissions are caused by agriculture and “associated land use and land-use change activities”. Whereas packaging contributes about 5.4% of food emissions and transportation is responsible for 4.8% (making the argument to buy local produce less weighted).
Which types of agriculture have the largest impacts?
There is a difference in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through the farming of different types of foods. With beef at the top which produces 60kg of CO2e per kg of beef while peas emit just 1 kilogram of CO2e per kg.
Land use and farming causes the most CO2e emissions and overall, animal-based foods tend to have a higher footprint than plant-based. Transportation, packaging and retail have a much less significant environmental impact. And whilst I'm sure we all feel strongly that we don't want to buy products that come in packaging that will stay on our planet for hundreds of years, the most impactful choice it seems we can make as consumers is to move towards a more plant-based diet. Whilst we know that is easier said that done and not everyone has the same opportunity to make that decision, any small steps we can take for our planet is a good one. Plus we know of a few kick-arse brands that can help you along the way ;)