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Home Environment CO2 & You: How FoodHero Calculates Your CO2 Heroics

CO2 & You: How FoodHero Calculates Your CO2 Heroics

Published on April 30 2019

You may have noticed in your FoodHero profile that we show you how many kilos of CO2 you’ve saved by using FoodHero. You may also have wondered how we calculate that. And, why it matters. Let’s start with the basics. 

What does CO2 have to do with saving the planet?

Great question! CO2 (or carbon dioxide) is a greenhouse gas known for its heat-trapping abilities. What that means is that CO2 traps heat within our atmosphere. Too much CO2 leads to global warming, which contributes to climate change.

CO2 in natureOceans naturally give off CO2

CO2 is naturally occurring. Humans and animals expel CO2 when we breathe, volcanoes produce it when they erupt, the natural decomposition of plant and animal life produces it, and even oceans naturally give off CO2.

However, there are natural processes that balance that out. Trees take in CO2 and give off oxygen. Plant life in oceans absorb huge amounts of CO2 and what the oceans give off is actually a slow release of what they’ve absorbed. Give it a google and you’ll discover a fascinating natural process of checks and balances.

CO2 NOT in natureFossil Fuels

Now the bad news. We humans have developed unnatural ways of producing HUGE amounts of CO2, and it’s thrown off that natural balance. The biggest contributor is the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels - gas, oil, coal, etc. - account for about 87% of manmade CO2 emissions. Because of this, we now have more CO2 in the atmosphere than the planet can naturally balance out.

Where does food waste come in?

Fossil fuels are used, in huge quantities, for the production, distribution and disposal of food. And that’s not just farm machinery and delivery trucks. We burn fuel to produce fertilizers and pesticides as well.

Any time we waste food, we also waste all the resources that went into producing it, and all the resources that go into disposing of it!

FoodHero and CO2

When we set out on our mission to reduce food waste, we knew it would have an impact on global CO2 emissions. But how much of an impact? That’s not an easy thing to calculate as there are many factors involved - factors that can differ, region to region.

So we brought in experts - a top-notch consulting firm that is experienced in creating the type of algorithm we wanted, and also shares our dedication to making the world a better place.

What they did & who they are

For the success of FoodHero, we’ve opted to keep the name of the firm and the details of the algorithm confidential. We will always be transparent about this: we are here to become a sustainable business, as we help to build a sustainable planet. For us to achieve our mission for the planet, we need to thrive as a business. 

What we CAN tell you

The “CO2 Saved” calculation in FoodHero focuses on waste processing - the CO2 produced when food from grocery stores is wasted. This includes the process itself - methods include burning, burying, composting and more - as well as transportation of waste.

The algorithm takes into account the waste processing practices of the various regions to determine the amount of CO2 that would have been produced if the food you purchased had been trashed instead of rescued.

What about producing the food?

It takes a lot of CO2 emissions to produce food.

Producing food uses a LOT of fossil fuels, but we rarely have access to the information needed to accurately measure it, product-by-product. It would mean having access to farm, transport and storage data, which either isn’t public, or isn’t feasible to aggregate for our purposes.

Also, those emissions have already been produced! The CO2 is out there! We’ve focused this measurement on the CO2 you have prevented from ever being produced. And that is such a heroic feat. Go you!

Real data for real change

If it sounds like we went to a lot of trouble to measure this, you’re right. But measurement matters. We can measure the negative impact humans are having on the planet. And that’s important. But we also need to measure the positive impact we can have. 

Reversing the damage that’s been done is possible. And it feels infinitely more possible when we can measure our success; see the proof in the numbers. And, as we continue to grow the FoodHero community, those numbers will climb higher and higher, marking real, positive, heroic change for the good of every single person on this planet. Achieved simply by making better choices for a task we already do on a regular basis - grocery shopping.

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