Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
According to a Federal Government report released in 2020, Australia emitted an estimated 510 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, with food-related emissions accounting for 14.2 per cent of this total. The report found that the average Australian produces the equivalent of 19.7Kg of carbon dioxide each day via their diets.
Another report from 2017 found that food waste comprised approximately six per cent of Australia’s GHGe, considering the water, energy and pesticides used in food production and packaging that ended up in landfills, where it released even more methane as it decomposed. Unlike New Zealand, current Australian Dietary Guidelines[ADG] do not consider environmental impacts of food and need to be updated, researchers said.
Unlike New Zealand, current Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) do not consider environmental impacts of food and need to be updated, researchers said. The existing ADG recommended daily servings of ‘core’ foods every day: fruit and vegetables, grains, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, milk, cheese, yoghurt and alternatives. These core foods are estimated to contribute between 67-73 per cent of total food-related GHGe in Australia, with meat, grains and dairy contributing the most emissions.
Fruit and vegetables are two of the lowest contributors.
Non-core or ‘discretionary’ foods include sugar-sweetened drinks, alcohol, confectionery and processed meats, accounting for between 27-33 per cent of food-related GHGe. While the percentage is lower than core food emissions, the fact that Australians are consuming large amounts of avoidable energy-rich, nutrient-poor foods is not helping the environment.
Other studies examined the environmental impacts of water use in food production. Australian irrigators soaked up eight million megalitres of water each year to grow crops, but the majority are exported, making it difficult to accurately reflect the nation’s water footprint. The researchers assessed 20 articles in their study, published in the past decade, with varying findings. Despite the differences, clear trends emerged.