- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2018

Beware the chocolate Easter bunny, and those foil-wrapped chocolate eggs. Both could be “bad for the environment” warns a new study, which says that such confections can damage the environment.

Researchers at The University of Manchester in England have identified “the carbon footprint of chocolate and its other environmental impacts,” analyzing such factors as ingredients, manufacturing processes, packaging and waste. Yes, cow gas emissions are cited in the research, which was released Friday.

The researchers estimate that the British chocolate industry alone produces about over 2 tons of greenhouse gases a year — as much as a large city.

“Most of us love chocolate, but don’t often think of what it takes to get from cocoa beans to the chocolate products we buy,” said Adisa Azapagic, director of Sustainable Industrial Systems and a professor within the School of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science on the campus.

The study noted that cocoa is cultivated in West Africa along with Central and South America, and travels many miles before it reaches a factory and leaving a sizable carbon footprint. Then there is the gas factor.

“It’s not only the cocoa — it’s also the milk powder used to make milk chocolates. Its production is very energy intensive, plus dairy cows produce significant greenhouse gas emissions per liter of milk produced. This all adds to the environmental impacts of chocolate,” the study said.

The researchers also figured it took 1000 liters of water — about 265 gallons — to produce a single chocolate bar, and identify “sharing bags” of chocolate goodies to be the worst for the environment.

“It is true that our love of chocolate has environmental consequences for the planet. But let’s be clear, we aren’t saying people should stop eating it,” Ms. Azapagic said. “The point of this study is to raise consumers’ awareness and enable more informed choices. Also, we hope this work will help the chocolates industry to target the environmental hotspots in the supply chains and make chocolate products as sustainable as possible.”

The study was published in Food Research International, an academic journal.

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