According to a new study, there may be an unlikely new scapegoat for global warming: sandwiches.
Scientists at the University of Manchester in England say their “in-depth audit of various sandwiches,” shows that the lunchtime staple is responsible for carbon emissions equal to 8.6 million cars in Britain alone.
What is the ‘carbon footprint’ for a sandwich?
The carbon footprint for sandwiches considers factors such as the cultivation of ingredients, food waste, recipes used, and various packaging options, according to the study. The study compares how both homemade and commercial sandwiches impact the environment.
A portion of the study notes that ham and cheese is the most popular homemade sandwich. It goes on to point out that the environment impact of the homemade version is about two times lower than the ready-made version often sold in convenience stores.
The study suggests including information about the “carbon footprint” on nutritional packaging for sandwiches in hopes of changing consumer behavior.
So are sandwiches going to destroy the earth?
Not everyone buys into the notion that climate change — whether caused by sandwiches or not — is a potential worldwide disaster.
For example, the Trump administration dropped climate change from its list of global threats.
The move was in sharp contrast to the Obama administration, which listed climate control as a key danger facing the nation.
President Donald Trump also pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord that seeks to reduce emissions and keep global temperatures from rising.
In June, Trump said: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” He believes the agreement “hamstrings the United States while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries”.
But the scientists at the University of Manchester are adamant that the great sandwich menace must be confronted.
“Given that sandwiches are a staple of the British diet as well as their significant market share in the food sector, it is important to understand the contribution from this sector to the emissions of greenhouse gases,” professor Adisa Azapagic, one of the authors of the paper, told The Guardian.
The British Sandwich Association notes that the United Kingdom consumes about 11.5 billion sandwiches annually. About half of them are made at home and the other half are purchased at kiosks, supermarkets and service stations.
Which sandwiches are worst for the planet?
One of the biggest offenders are breakfast sandwiches filled with egg, bacon and sausage.
The researchers estimate that an “all-day breakfast sandwich” emits the equivalent of carbon emissions created by driving a car for 12 miles, The Guardian reported.