Cleaner production from the consumers perspective

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From the consumer perspective cleaner production involves changes in the complete production chain instead of developments only in agriculture as analyzed in the previous paragraph. The Kramer study mentioned earlier also provides information on this. He analyzed options to reduce emissions within the complete production chain including: agriculture, industry, packaging, transport, trade, consumption and waste management. His analysis is based on the agreements between the various sectors and government with respect to energy use efficiency improvements. Table 12.3 shows some of the outcomes.

Table 12.3 Greenhouse gas reduction percentage along the food production chain (%)

Sector Reduction

Agriculture 6.0

Industry 8.4

Retail 3.0

Transport 0.6

Kitchen appliances 5.5

Sustainable energy 3.0

Source: Kramer (2000).

The changes in agriculture involve increasing production per cattle (reduction of the CH4 emissions, more efficient use of fertilizers (reduction of the N2O and CO2) and large energy savings in horticulture. In industry they involve a general increase in energy use efficiency with 30-35% gains by the year 2010 relative to 1990. In the retail sector this general energy efficiency improvement leads to an energy reduction of 3%. The improvements in transport are the results of a combination of more energy efficient trucks, better driving practices, etc these measures lead to a reduction of 7% of the emissions related to transport. Transport improvements play a minor role in the overall reduction amounting to 0.6%.

The use of energy efficient kitchen appliances (refrigerators etc.) in households is estimated to result in a 5.5% reduction. A national shift to sustainable energy is expected. Assuming that by 2010 that 5% of the total Dutch energy consumption originates from renewables, this would result in an extra 3% reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions related to food. The simultaneous implementation of all these options results in a 26% reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food.

It is striking that reduction in the non-agricultural parts of the chain has the largest impact on the emissions related to food. The effects of changes in household consumption are of the same magnitude as the changes in agricultural production. This consumer side analysis provides new insights in options to reduce emissions. It might be far easier to exchange all refrigerators in the households with more efficient units than to introduce large changes in the agricultural production systems that also have negative trade-offs to the other environmental themes.

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