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  Riverford sustainable development project



It may seem odd that we have not included farming in our carbon footprint, farming being at the heart of our business and its contribution to climate change being potentially significant.


A recent UK study suggested that life cycle emissions associated with fruit and vegetables account for approximately 2% of the EU’s total contribution to climate change.  In the UK agriculture as a whole contributes 7% of the national CO2e* footprint (though the majority of this is attributable to livestock associated greenhouse gases).  As horticulture uses only 4% of the UK’s cropland and does not directly involve livestock (although this is debatable where organic farming is concerned) it is likely that the contribution made to the UK’s CO2e footprint is relatively small.


*CO2e means a number of greenhouse gasses with different global warming impacts have been measured and converted into CO2 equivalents.  For example 1kg of methane = 23kgCO2e.


Although we could get some way to measuring the emissions resulting from our own farming, this is only about a third of the produce we sell and all the signs were that it was going to be very difficult to get good information on the other two thirds, particularly the imported produce.  To assess accurately the emissions associated with farming we would have had to bombard our suppliers with paper-work and even then the information would be poor.


In the future we plan to take a more detailed look at this side of the business, for now we are focussing our efforts on the side of the business post farm gate, with the one exception of tomatoes (see below).