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You are here: Home / Media / Infographics / How does the food we buy, eat and don’t eat impact the environment?

How does the food we buy, eat and don’t eat impact the environment?

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Before reaching our plates, food needs to be produced, processed, packaged, transported and distributed. Every step uses up resources and generates more waste and pollution.

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Based on indicator

Ammonia (NH3) emissions (APE 003) - Assessment published Jan 2014 Ammonia (NH3) emissions (APE 003) - Assessment published Jan 2014 EEA-33 emissions of NH 3  have declined by 25% between the years 1990 and 2011. Agriculture was responsible for 94% of NH 3  emissions in 2011. The reduction in emissions within the agricultural sector is primarily due to a reduction in livestock numbers (especially cattle) since 1990, changes in the handling and management of organic manures and from the decreased use of nitrogenous fertilisers. The reductions achieved in the agricultural sector have been marginally offset by the increase in annual emissions over this period in the road-transport sector, and to a lesser extent the 'Solvent and product use' and 'Non-road transport' sectors. All but three of the EU-28 Member States reported 2011 national NH 3  emissions which meet the continuing obligation to stay below the 2010 emission ceilings set in the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) [1] . Emissions in 2011 for one of the three non-EU countries having emission ceilings set under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) were also below the level of the respective 2010 ceilings. In 2010 emissions of NH 3  in Denmark and Germany were slightly (less than 1%) above their ceiling; in Denmark these have now reduced below their ceiling, however, in Germany they have risen a further 2%. Environmental context: NH 3  contributes to acid deposition and eutrophication. The subsequent impacts of acid deposition can be significant, including adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems in rivers and lakes, and damage to forests, crops and other vegetation. Eutrophication can lead to severe reductions in water quality with subsequent impacts including decreased biodiversity, changes in species composition and dominance, and toxicity effects. NH 3  also contributes to the formation of secondary particulate aerosols, an important air pollutant due to its adverse impacts on human health. [1]  Emissions data reported by EU member states under NECD is used for comparison with NECD ceilings, and data reported under CLRTAP is used for all other calculations unless otherwise stated.

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