User Guide


This section covers the food and drink that you serve in your organisation. It is broken into two parts:

  • Drinks and snacks
  • Meals

Unless you keep meticulous records of the number of cups of tea served, the amounts you enter here should be “best guess” amounts for an average month.

Drinks and Snacks

The carbon emissions factors for estimating the footprint of drinks and snacks served at church services, events and activities have been developed using data from Defra about consumption emissions and consumer price index data from the Office for National Statistics.

Consumption emissions relate amount spent on a product to the carbon emissions from using that product. The categories in the consumption emission data closely match those in the CPI data which gives average costs for products from a standardised “basket of goods”. The ONS gather this data on a monthly basis from supermarkets, and through telephone calls to suppliers.

We have averaged the published average prices for 2018 and 2019 for the six drinks and snacks of interest. Combined with an estimate of typical serving or portion sizes we have arrived at six emissions factors. The factors are quite broad – for example “coffee” covers any brand of coffee from any source, at any (real) price. So, we can only estimate the emissions for snacks and drinks.

The emissions factors we have used:

ItemFactor (kgCO₂/serving)ServingNotes
Tea0.00871 teabag
Coffee0.05471 cupFilter coffee – 250g packet used to make approx 30 cups
Squash0.0042200ml glassDiluted 4:1 (water:squash)
Fruit juice0.0574200ml glass
Biscuits1.12941 packet300-400g packet of chocolate biscuits
Pastries/cake0.20011 pastry or slice of a cake1 slice = 1/8th of a cake


The emissions estimate given for meals is from “farm to fork” and includes packaging and transport to the supermarket.

The data we use for estimating the carbon footprint of your organisations's food comes from a study conducted by Dr Peter Scarborough of Oxford University called “Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK” (available here).

The study was based on data from the UK and each factor covers a day's food – 2,000 kcal diet. Churches don't tend to serve three meals a day so for the purposes of estimating emissions for churches we have taken a proportion of Dr Scarborough's figure in line with NHS guidance about how we should split our calories across meals in a day (excluding drinks). The NHS suggests a 400-600-600 split between breakfast, lunch and dinner. This gives a “weighting” for a single meal – lunch or dinner – of 0.375, which we have used for the six meal factors.

The emissions factors we have used are:

Meal typeFactor (kgCO₂/meal)Notes
High meat-eater2.696More than 100g per day
Medium meat-eater2.111Between 50g and 100g per day
Low meat-eater1.751Less than 50g per day

Some average weights for meat products:

  • Quarter pounder burger – 227g
  • Rump steak – 200g
  • Lamb chop – 150g
  • Chicken drumstick – 85g

Even within the UK there are many factors that can affect your food carbon footprint. For example:

  • Food that is bought locally will typically (but not always) have a smaller footprint than food that comes from abroad.
  • Produce that is “in season” will have a smaller footprint than “out of season” produce because it will usually have been produced in the country where it will be consumed – so it will travel less.
  • Different supermarkets have different supply chains and those supply chains will have different carbon footprints depending on how efficient they are and where the supermarket sources goods.
  • How far you travel to buy food – your carbon footprint from getting your food home isn't included here, but should be entered in the Travel tab.