Researchers from the University of Manchester have found that prepackaged sarnies containing cheese, prawns or pork - such as bacon, ham or sausages - are bad news for the environment.
Arguably one of Britain's greatest culinary successes, the United Kingdom public eats more than 11.5 billion sandwiches each year - and the number is rising.
The carbon footprint of the most popular homemade sandwich (ham & cheese) varies from 399-843g CO2 eq per sandwich, depending on the recipe.
The team calculated the carbon dioxide equivalent of the 11.5 billion sandwiches eaten each year in the UK.
The study took into account the environmental impact of raising various sandwich ingredients, processing them, transporting them, packaging them and refrigerating them before purchase and consumption.
"Altogether the team looked at 40 different sandwich types, recipes and combinations". "For example, consuming 11.5 billion sandwiches annually in the United Kingdom generates, on average, 9.5 million tonnes of Carbon dioxide eq., equivalent to the annual use of 8.6 million cars".
The numbers such as they are say that the growing, harvesting, cooking, construction, packaging and transportation elements that go into the building of one all day breakfast sandwich results in 1,441 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent, or roughly how much CO2 would be pumped into the atmosphere by driving a auto for 12 miles. The results showed that just one of these sandwiches generates the equivalent amount of carbon as driving a vehicle for 12 miles. They found that the carbon footprints of pre-packaged sandwiches are larger because of the additional energy required for refrigerated storage, the resulting leakage of refrigerants, and the higher food losses that occur throughout the supply chain.
The carbon footprint of your sandwich could be having a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions according to new research.
To that end, study co-author and sustainable chemistry professor Adisa Azapagic also proposed systemic changes to cut down on food waste, suggesting companies "change the labelling of food to increase the use-by date as these are usually quite conservative".
The study also recommends reducing or omitting certain ingredients that have a higher carbon footprint, like lettuce, tomato, cheese and meat. "Commercial sandwiches undergo rigorous shelf-life testing and are normally safe for consumption beyond the use-by date stated on the label".
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