We mostly hear about switching plastic items with eco-friendly alternatives. But recently a study suggested that switches in food and beverages can reduce greenhouse gases emissions in Australia.

According to a new Australian study published by the George Institute for Global Health and Imperial College London, environmentally friendly alternatives of our regular groceries can cut emissions.

This is the first time when an in-depth analysis is done on the environmental effects of nation’s food consumption habits. It also includes greenhouse gas emissions and sales data for tens of thousands of supermarket products. This gives a comprehensive overview of the typical Western diet followed in various countries around the world.

The George Institute Australia developed a free app, ecoSwitch. Shoppers can use this app to scan the product barcode and check its Planetary Health Rating. This rating shows emission as a score between 1/2 star (high emission) and 5 star (low emission).


  • The study highlights that a simple switch can prevent more than a quarter of emissions, around 26%.
  • Switching frozen meat lasagna for the vegetarian option could increase the rate to 71%.
  • Projected emissions of annual grocery of 7,000 Australian households was considered for the report.
  • Researchers assign more than 22,000 products to minor, major, and sub-categories of food.
  • Switching food within the same sub-categories of food could reduce around 26% emissions in Australia.
  • The research uses information like weights, ingredients, and production life cycles.
  • Switches made within minor categories could reduce emissions by up to 71%.
  • The George Institute’s FoodSwitch database and global environmental impact datasets provided the necessary data.
Food swaps can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Pic Credits: Nature Food

Here are some interesting facts about food production.

Food Swaps Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Need of the Hour

Researchers suggest it is important to implement on-pack labelling of greenhouse gas emissions for each packaged food item. This will help the customers to make informed decisions.

Estimated, 1/3rd of global GHG emissions are related to the food and agricultural sector. Around 10-14 trillion USD is spent on health and environmental costs of the global food system. If the system transitions and delivers low-emission diets, more than 12 million deaths can be prevented per year.

Emissions from different food products according to the purchase analysis:

  • Meat products 49% (11% of total purchases)
  • Vegetable/grain products 25% (5% of total purchases)

According to Prof. Bruce Neal, Executive Director at The George Institute Australia and Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Imperial College London, “As a global community, we are taking too long to improve the sustainability of the food system, endangering the prospect of a net-zero future.”

There are plans to extend the ecoSwitch algorithm and include other environmental indicators like biodiversity, water and land use. The George Institute also wants to introduce the tool in other countries as well.

Source: Switches in food and beverage product purchases can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia


Elliot is a passionate environmentalist and blogger who has dedicated his life to spreading awareness about conservation, green energy, and renewable energy. With a background in environmental science, he has a deep understanding of the issues facing our planet and is committed to educating others on how they can make a difference.

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