Last updated: April 2016
The carbon footprint of a UK supermarket
Mike Berners Lee, writer of ‘How Bad Are Bananas?’, a book that we use in our research, works with northern supermarket chain Booths to produce a bi-annual analysis of their carbon footprint, from the farm to the checkout.
Photo credit: Flickr
‘The Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Booths’ gives a comprehensive breakdown of all of Booths’ carbon footprint, not just of its operations but also looking at food supply chain impacts, such as meat and dairy and flown or hot-housed vegetables. It is the most comprehensive and transparent account of greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chains of any UK supermarket and is therefore an illuminating insight into the footprint of a UK supermarket.
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The 2014 report found that just over two-thirds of its greenhouse gas emissions were attributable to farming and manufacturing, by far the biggest contributor.
If you look at the carbon footprint from a different angle – from goods sold – animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) and their ‘alternatives’ make up 57% of the total carbon footprint. Dairy and eggs are almost as carbon intensive as meat, with cheese having the highest emissions. Fruit and vegetables together make up just 10% of the footprint, non-food (excluding floristry) a further 8%, and drinks (both alcoholic and soft) another 7%.
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There is high variation between types of meat. Beef and lamb (the ruminants) appear as the most carbon-intensive meats per kilogram, followed by bacon, with poultry and most fish at the lower end of the spectrum.
Pre-farm-gate emissions make up 88% from meat. Three greenhouse gases are important: methane emissions from ruminant animals but also from slurry, nitrous oxide resulting mainly from fertiliser use and carbon dioxide emissions from energy use.
Download the full report.