UK's sandwich obsession produces as much Carbon dioxide as EIGHT million cars

Switching sandwiches could cut your carbon footprint in half

Meanwhile, the most environmentally friendly option is a homemade ham and cheese sandwich, which generates between 399 and 843 grams (14-30 ounces) of Carbon dioxide equivalent, depending on the recipe.

Specifically a sandwich made from 58g of bread, 8g of ham, 20g of cheese and 13g of mayo.

A new study analysing the carbon footprint of the 11.5bn sandwiches eaten in the United Kingdom each year has found that the average impact from homemade sandwiches is around two-times lower than the ready-made equivalent. Carbon dioxide equivalent - CO2 eq - is a standard unit for measuring carbon footprints.

Some of the largest contributors to a sandwich's carbon footprint are: agricultural production, processing ingredients, keeping sandwiches chilled in supermarkets and shops, packaging material and transporting materials. The study found that sandwiches containing pork meat (that's bacon, ham and sausage), cheese and prawns contained the highest carbon footprints.

"For example, consuming 11.5 billion sandwiches annually in the United Kingdom generates, on average, 9.5 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the annual use of 8.6 million cars". Including egg, bacon and sausage, researchers estimated that this type of sandwich generates 1,441g of CO2. The results showed that just one of these sandwiches generates the equivalent amount of carbon as driving a vehicle for 12 miles. This can be traced to the fact that store-bought options tend to generate excess food waste, use unnecessary packaging, and require more energy to keep cool in shops and supermarkets than your ingredients at home.

Furthermore, the study finds that the carbon footprint could be cut as much as 50% if a combination of changes were made to the recipes, packaging and waste disposal. According to their study in the journal Sustainable Production and Consumption, homemade sandwiches have half the impact of ready-made sandwiches, so it is better for the environment to make your own lunch.

In addition, extending sell-by and use-by dates could help to reduce waste by 2,000 tonnes annually, according to the BSA. For starters, it recommends cutting down or eliminating ingredients with especially higher carbon footprints like meat, cheese, tomato, and yes, even lettuce.

"Commercial sandwiches undergo rigorous shelf-life testing and are normally safe for consumption beyond the use-by date stated on the label", said Professor Adisa Azapagic.

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