By Sayonjit Roy* :  *Student, JAIN (Deemed-To-Be-University) Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Bengaluru

Dr. Ishita Auddy** : Assistant Professor, JAIN (Deemed-To-Be-University) Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Bengaluru

Explore the vital role of carbon footprints and embodied carbon in shaping policy for sustainable development, particularly in the food industry. Gain insights into emission patterns, environmental impacts, and strategies for reducing carbon footprints in the production and transportation of food.


Both carbon footprints and embodied carbon have a sound methodological base and are important components of policy development. Promoting and even regulating the general use of carbon footprints calculated using current knowledge is necessary. Carbon footprints can help consumers influence their own environmentally friendly behaviour at the product level and assist governments in creating rules that do not create unintended incentives. Businesses can use carbon footprints to lessen their exposure to carbon costs or promote the good things they have done. Cities and regions can use carbon footprints to establish regional policies that support broad national goals. In the food industry and the global economy, the idea of sustainable development is becoming more and more significant. Worldwide efforts are made to increase industry productivity while lessening its harmful effects on the environment. The environmental footprints of goods and services are computed using the LCA (life cycle assessment) method to assist in identifying detrimental human behaviour. This article’s goal was to provide explanations of issues related to sustainable development and environmental footprints, particularly the carbon footprint in the food industry, using the most recent research. 


Examined were the compositions and changing patterns of emission sources, the effects of urbanisation, and the carbon footprint and emission factors of 15 different food categories. According to research, combined with growing urbanisation, the total carbon footprint of food production doubled during those three decades. Synthetic fertiliser, direct energy usage, enteric fermentation, and manure management showed the most emissions increase. The carbon footprint of producing rice was the largest among all food kinds, and due to rising yields, the carbon footprints of producing milk, beef, fruit, and vegetables also climbed quickly. The main goals of this strategy are to create responsible production practices, the reinforcement of environmental responsibility, and their related proactive communication. Improving the food chain’s environmental responsibility largely depends on addressing the CO2 footprint or the influence of food on climate change, which is currently the topic of the most intense discussion. Although consumers, businesses, industry, and farmers want to lessen the effects of climate change, they currently do not have the resources to do so. Reducing food waste and overproduction, ensuring that everyone has access to food and clean water, encouraging sustainable consumption and economic growth, lowering pollution emissions into the air, water, and land, and managing natural resources sustainably are some of the most crucial agri-food sector initiatives.

Carbon Footprint of Plant and Animal Products

Studying environmental footprints and sustainable development is crucial since these topics are becoming increasingly popular in science and politics. In recent years, more study has been done to identify the remnants of various goods and services. Data from the FAO show that animal production of meat and dairy is responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on the type of meat eaten, it has been calculated that a vegetarian diet is several times less damaging to the environment than a vegetarian diet. The European Commission has engaged in various initiatives over the past ten years to provide consistent metrics for assessing the environmental effect of goods and businesses across diverse sectors. The food industry includes pasta, bottled water, dairy goods, wine, beer, olive oil, coffee, sea fish, meat, and pet and farm animal feed. The life cycle assessment was the key research tool. Finally, techniques were adopted for assessing the environmental footprint of several previously stated products, including pasta, water, dairy products, wine, and beer. Manufacturers will soon be compelled to publish environmental footprint information on labels to allow customers to choose environmentally conscious items. Using life cycle analysis (LCA), which took into account aspects including pig breeding, slaughter, retail, and fresh meat consumption, the carbon footprint (CF) for pork production was calculated. Pig farming is the most emissive step of meat production since it involves the most time and energy (it takes the longest of all phases), uses a lot of feed, and produces a lot of dung and methane. Pig farming contributed more than 90% of all emissions with its carbon footprint, which was 4.383 kg CO2 (per kilogram of pork). Also, this step is where 95.4% of the nitrogen molecules and 98.4% of the Sulphur compounds that are released originate. Based on this, it was discovered that strengthening animal husbandry techniques is the best way to lessen the damaging effect of pig production on the environment.

Carbon Footprint of Beef Cattle

For Canada, the US, the EU, Australia, and Brazil, the carbon footprint of beef cattle is shown. The extent, or boundary, of the system chosen, which specifies the upstream and downstream activities included in the assessment, determines the size of the carbon footprint associated with the manufacturing of any product. We refer to the boundary circumstances in this study as “cradle to the farm gate,” meaning that any GHG emissions that occur before cattle leave the farm gate will be included. Many animal-based agricultural products, including milk, beef, pork, and chicken, have had their greenhouse gas emissions assessed nationally; however, many of the estimates are considerably smaller. Although most countries use a similar framework, there are significant regional variations in the management and distribution of cattle among the various categories.

Transportation problems for food and lowering the carbon footprint

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in many developed nations. Since food products frequently travel great distances to reach customers, transportation would be the main factor in food-related greenhouse gas emissions. This is rarely the case, as we demonstrate in this chapter. Long and complicated supply chains are typical, particularly in the food business. We give an overview of the fundamentals of the supply chain and the unique problems associated with moving and storing food from the place of production to the store shelf. We cover the takeaways from many industry case studies and a range of carbon audits. We compare various methods for distributing and packaging food and drink goods.

The environmental impact of meat and dairy products

In the food sector, the consumption of meat and dairy products accounts for a sizeable share of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions should be decreased to comply with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations to restrict global warming. Most of our daily, essential protein consumption comes from dairy and meat sources. Yet, the protein content of meat and dairy products varies greatly, making it challenging to determine which protein source has the lowest carbon footprint. We compare the carbon footprint of various meat and dairy products about their protein levels in this helpful and educational review. Yet, a “low CO2” diet consisting solely of tiny chicken, eggs, and yoghurt may be used to reduce carbon footprints by 50% globally. Such food patterns imply simple consumer recommendations for a smaller carbon footprint. Meat and dairy products are the food types that impact the overall carbon footprint of dietary choices. Meat and dairy products have much in common, including their high protein content, making them the main protein sources in modern diets. Because they are a significant source of protein in typical diets, we shall also put eggs in the “dairy” category in the following.


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