188.8.131.52 Production processes, emissions and emission intensities
The main production processes for the food industry are almost identical, involving preparatory stages including crushing, processing/refining, drying and packaging. Most produce process residuals, which typically go to waste. Food production requires electricity, process steam and thermal energy, which in most cases are produced from fossil fuels. The major GHG emissions from the food industry are CO2 from fossil fuel combustion in boilers and furnaces, CH4 (GWP=21 (IPCC, 1995)) and N2O (GWP = 310 (IPCC, 1995)) from waste water systems.
The largest source of food industry emissions is CH4 from waste water treatment, which could be recovered for energy generation. For example, the Malaysian palm oil industry emits an estimated 5.17 MtCO2-eq (1.4 MtC-eq) from open-ponding systems that could generate 2.25 GWh of electricity while significantly reducing GHG emissions (Yeoh, 2004). Emissions from the Thai starch industry (Cohen, 2001) are estimated at 370 ktCO2-eq/yr (101 ktC-eq/yr), 88% were from waste water treatment, 8% from combustion of fuel oil and 4% from grid electricity. Although individual food industry factory emissions are low, their cumulative effect is significant in view of the large numbers of factories in both developed and developing countries. Typical energy intensities estimated at about 11 GJ/t for edible oils, 5 GJ/t for sugar and 10 GJ/t for canning operations (UNIDO, 2002).