What are Life Cycle Assessments?
When you create a recipe on the Floop app or take inspiration from one of our in-app recipes, you’ll see your food's carbon footprint displayed with your meal.
The total carbon footprint has been calculated using a scientific methodology called Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs).
What is food's carbon footprint, and how is it calculated?
Well, in short, a food's carbon footprint represents the impact it has on the climate.
It is measured using the unit -kg/CO₂e. This means kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per amount of food.
We use equivalents because there are many more gases than just CO₂ that get released, so to keep them all in one unit of measurement, we use CO₂ equivalents – or CO₂e.
A food's carbon footprint is calculated using a tool known as Life Cycle Assessment.
What is a Life Cycle Assessment?
Life Cycle Assessments, or LCAs, are a scientific methodology used to analyse the different stages involved in creating, distributing, and using a product or service.
LCAs calculate the impact of each stage and total these together to give a value for the overall impact.
Life Cycle Assessments can be used in lots of different settings and industries. But, in general, Life Cycle Assessments tend to be used to measure and compare the environmental and/or climate impact of a product or service.
How does Floop use Life Cycle Assessments?
Each ingredient used to create recipes in the Floop app has undergone a Life Cycle Assessment.
In the case of Floop, the LCA tool looks at each stage involved in the production of an ingredient or food product.
It allows us to calculate the amount of greenhouse gases (measured in CO₂e) produced in each stage.
Floop's Life Cycle Assessments look at:
growing and farming ingredients in the field, like ploughing or irrigation
processing ingredients into a food product, like chopping or pasteurising
packaging the food up, like canning and plastic packaging
transporting ingredients across both long and short distances, right until it arrives in the shop and is finally brought and consumed by you!
You can see why Life Cycle Assessments are sometimes referred to as a 'cradle-to-grave' analysis technique.
The LCA tool is really useful because it helps us calculate the total impact of a food product on the climate.
When you compare your food choices in the Floop app, it helps you make more sustainable decisions about the food you choose to eat.
Let’s look at a few examples…
If we compare kg of CO₂e per 1kg of a few everyday food items, you start to get a sense of how the carbon footprint can vary…
It’s pretty clear that some of these items are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than others. So why is this? It’s mainly due to the farming process.
When talking about a food's carbon footprint, people often bring up transportation, particularly for tropical fruit transported from afar.
Although transport does play a part and buying local is a great way to reduce your food emissions, the farming stage of food's life cycle tends to be where most greenhouse gases are produced.
What else should we know about LCAs?
Life Cycle Assessments have developed rapidly over the last couple of decades. As a result, the science and techniques used continuously evolve, and data accuracy is constantly improving.
You may notice that Life Cycle Assessment data from different sources can vary. This is because other calculations may include or omit different life cycle stages for various reasons.
Our team is continuously looking at ways to refine the Life Cycle Assessment data in the Floop app to give you the most accurate food carbon footprint.