Swedes spend an average of SEK 45 on sweets a week. Sweets can be nice to indulge in sometimes, but it rarely does the planet any favors. The Swedish consumption of sweets, soft drinks and chips causes emissions of almost half a million tonnes of greenhouse gasses, i.e. 0.8% of Sweden’s total emissions. It also accounts for 2.6% of the Swedish food consumption’s climate impact. Here we will take a closer look at two different types of sweets and how they affect the climate. You can also read advice for a more sustainable consumption of sweets.
It may not be so well known, but foam candy is a real environmental culprit. According to SVT (in Swedish), a bag of foam candy has as great an impact on the climate as a portion of pork. A report (in Swedish) from the Nordic Council of Ministers studied a Swedish manufacturer of foam candy, and concluded, among other things, that a bag of foam candy which weighs 125 grams:
- Constitutes emissions of about half a kilogram of carbon dioxide equivalents. It is primarily the production of ingredients that causes emissions, it accounts for almost 0.35 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents.
- In addition, it causes eutrophication of 1.42 grams of phosphate equivalents. Eutrophication can have bad effects on, for example, biodiversity and cause algal blooms.
- The whole life cycle of this bag of foam candy obviously requires energy. This energy comes largely from non-renewable sources. For example, the transport of the ingredients is usually only non-renewable energy sources.
Jelly candy is comparatively better for the environment than foam candy, but, of course, it also has an environmental impact. The same report from the Nordic Council of Ministers concluded that a bag of jelly candy weighing 2 kilos:
- Emits 4.8 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents. The same applies here as for the foam candy, it is by far the production of ingredients that cause the most emissions, as it accounts for almost 2.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents. At the same time, the production of the candy itself accounts for a large proportion, about 1.7 kilograms.
- In addition to this, jelly candy also has an effect on eutrophication, and this 2 kilogram bag accounts for 4.8 grams of phosphate equivalents. Here, too, it is the production of ingredients that has the greatest impact.
- On the other hand, when it comes to energy consumption, it is the actual production of the candy that requires the most energy. Of the energy used, again, large parts are from non-renewable sources.
What to choose then?
- Why not try making your own candy? Then you know what the sweets contain and can consequently avoid emissions of, for example, transport and the candy bag. The packaging itself actually has a worse environmental impact than you might think, you can read more here.
- Avoid palm oil! Palm oil is known not to be good for the climate and is often used in sweets, cakes, chocolate and popcorn. Read more about palm oil here (in Swedish) and find a list of candies without palm oil here (in Swedish).
- Chocolate is also an environmental culprit, but it is possible to find more environmentally friendly alternatives, for example from smaller manufacturers. You can read more about chocolate here.
- It can also be a good idea to reduce the consumption of sweets in general. Both the body and the planet will benefit from it! Then it will also feel even more luxurious once you do eat sweets.
Page updated 2021.