Chocolate’s Carbon Footprint

Chocolate’s Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint 

A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air when we use energy – to cook food, ride a bus or watch TV. Each person makes about 4 tons of carbon per year just going about their daily lives. 

Imagine how much more energy a farm or factory uses! 

Chocolate’s Carbon Footprint 

Chocolate has one of the highest carbon footprints of plant-based foods in the world. 

Chocolate takes more energy to produce than coffee, pork, or chicken. The cocoa industry makes over 2 million tons of greenhouse gases per year.  


To make room for more cacao farms, thousands of acres of rainforest have been cleared.  

Rainforests trap carbon. But when the trees are cut down, this carbon is released as carbon dioxide and adds to global warming. Animals also lose their habitats. 


Up to 40% of a cacao crop is lost every year to disease. Farmers often overuse pesticides or fertilizer. This pollutes the water and soil, and creates an unhealthy environment for the locals and wildlife.  

One healthy cacao tree produces enough beans to make only 10 regular size (1.5 ounces) chocolate bars per year! 


Cacao trees require lots of water. It takes almost 30,000 quarts to make two pounds of cocoa beans. About 10,000 quarts are used just to transport and store these two pounds of beans on their long overseas journey to a factory. That’s a huge water footprint! 


Cacao beans travel thousands of miles before chocolate-making can begin. Bags of beans get to port by truck. There they are loaded onto ships and sail from the Cocoa Belt to factories mainly in Europe and the US


Cacao then goes through a long process of roasting, grinding, and blending before it’s poured into blocks and sent to chocolate companies and bakeries.  

Other ingredients in chocolate production increase the carbon footprint such as milk powder, sugar, and palm oil to make milk chocolate. Rain forests are cut down to make palm oil farms, and dairy cows make methane gas. Dark chocolate uses more cocoa and cocoa butter, which means it needs more beans. 


Chocolate uses more plastic in its packaging than other foods. Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween all have their own wrappings.  

People give boxes of chocolates as gifts. Bite-sized chocolates are often wrapped in foil or placed inside a plastic tray in a fancy box tied with a bow. This wrapping is not recyclable and ends up in the landfill.