Per 21g Protein Serving (4 ounces)
Carbon
Footprint
Square
Footprint
Water
Footprint
1.39 kg CO2e
17.48 ft2
17.80 Gallons
Monthly Choice
Weekly Choice
Daily Choice
Best Choice

Food Waste

Consumers are estimated to waste on average 15% of all Chicken purchased (USDA ERS, 2019).

Food waste increases the environmental impact of Chicken by 17.6%

Consumers are estimated to waste on average 15% of all Chicken purchased (USDA ERS, 2019).

Carbon Footprint

If you ate 4 ounces of Chicken every day for a year, you would use:

56.9

Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent

505.9

kg CO2e
If you ate 4 ounces of Chicken every day for a year, you would use:

56.9

Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent

505.9

kg CO2e

The Cradle to Grave Carbon Footprint of Chicken is 12.27 kg CO2e per kg. The greenhouse gas emissions of Chicken are 6.6 times lower than Beef.

  • 0.0659 g CO2e / g protein
  • 11.41 kg CO2e / 2,000 kcal
  • 12.27 kg CO2e / kg
  • 5.56 kg CO2e / lb
  • 186.0 g protein / kg (Source: USDA Food Data Central, 2019)
  • 2,150 kcal / kg (Source: USDA Food Data Central, 2019)

Carbon Footprint of Gasoline: 8.89 kg CO2e / gallon

  • Based on EIA (2016)

Carbon Footprint of Chicken at Retail Gate: 9.69 kg CO2e / kg

  • Global weighted average reported by Poore & Nemeck (2018). The study is the most thorough meta-analysis for the environmental impact of food published to date. The value represents 21 Life Cycle Analyses (LCA), and 37 independent production systems modeled, mostly in the peer reviewed literature. Individual LCA studies are weighted according to their representativeness of the country they were performed in, as well as that country’s global production. The study re-samples the dataset to fill in gaps for missing data and uncertainty.
  • Carbon footprint with climate feedbacks includes all on-farm processes, land use change, transportation for processing and delivery to retail, packaging, retail storage, and all losses from processing and food waste.

Carbon Footprint of Transport From Retail to Home: 0.44 kg CO2e / kg

Carbon Footprint of Cooking: 0.49 kg CO2e / kg

  • Cooked from 40 degrees fresh to 180 degrees internal for 18 minutes on a 1,600 g 12 inch aluminum frying pan on medium heat. For portions serving 5-7 people, a second pan is modeled and total food mass is assumed to be split between the two pans.
  • Serving size is 4 ounces (113 g).
  • Heat capacity of Chicken is 3.22 J / g*C (Engineering ToolBox, 2003)
  • Cooking time based on Recipe Tips (2020).
  • For energy use calculators and the proportion of US Household size used to determine cooking proportions, see the “Carbon Footprint of Cooking” page.
  • Source: Carbon Footprint of Cooking

Carbon Footprint of Consumer Food Loss: 1.59 kg CO2e / kg

Carbon Footprint of Disposal: 0.05 kg CO2e / kg

Cradle to Grave Carbon Footprint: 12.27 kg CO2e / kg

Additional Assumptions:

  • Energy use from refrigeration at home is not considered. The electricity load of a refrigerator is considered separate from the foods placed inside of it, because it is assumed that every household has a refrigerator, regardless of how much food is in it. The individual load of opening the refrigerator for one item has been estimated to be around 2 g CO2e / opening (0.02 MJ / opening; Terrell, 2006), and thus does not meet the cutoff for sensitivity of carbon footprints set at 2 significant digits for kg CO2e.

Square Footprint

If you ate 4 ounces of Chicken every day for a year, you would use:

44

Parking Spaces Equivalent

6,379

ft2
If you ate 4 ounces of Chicken every day for a year, you would use:

44

Parking Spaces Equivalent

6,379

ft2

The Cradle to Grave Square Footprint of Chicken is 154.12 ft2 per kg. The land use of Chicken is 16.6 times lower than Beef.

  • 0.829 ft2 / g protein

  • 143.36 ft2 / 2,000 kcal

  • 154.12 ft2 / kg

  • 69.91 ft2 / lb

  • 186.0 g protein / kg (Source: USDA Food Data Central, 2019)

  • 2,150 kcal / kg (Source: USDA Food Data Central, 2019)

Square Footprint of Chicken at Retail Gate: 131.00 ft2 / kg

  • Global weighted average reported by Poore & Nemeck (2018). The study is the most thorough meta-analysis for the environmental impact of food published to date. The value represents 21 Life Cycle Analyses (LCA), and 37 independent production systems modeled, mostly in the peer reviewed literature. Individual LCA studies are weighted according to their representativeness of the country they were performed in, as well as that country’s global production. The study re-samples the dataset to fill in gaps for missing data and uncertainty.

  • Value reported includes on farm post-harvest handling and storage losses reported by Poore & Nemeck (2018). Land use required for seed and fallow land is added to the final yield to reflect all land required.

  • Value reported includes all processing losses and food wasted.

  • Original value reported as 12.17 m2 / kg

Square Footprint After Consumer Food Waste: 154.12 ft2 / kg

  • The USDA ERS Loss Adjusted Food Availability (2019) reports a consumer loss of 15% for Chicken in the United States.

  • Total consumer food loss of 15% increases the Square Footprint by 23.12 ft2 / kg, or 17.6%.

Water Footprint

If you ate 4 ounces of Chicken every day for a year, you would use:

43.3

Hours in the Shower Equivalent

6,496

Gallons of Water
If you ate 4 ounces of Chicken every day for a year, you would use:

43.3

Hours in the Shower Equivalent

6,496

Gallons

The Cradle to Grave Water Footprint of Chicken is 156.9 gallons per kg. The water use of Chicken is 4.0 times lower than Beef.

  • 0.844 gallons / g protein

  • 146.0 gallons / 2,000 kcal

  • 156.9 gallons / kg

  • 71.2 gallons / lb

  • 186.0 g protein / kg (Source: USDA Food Data Central, 2019)

  • 2,150 kcal / kg (Source: USDA Food Data Central, 2019)

Water Footprint of Chicken at Retail Gate: 133.39 gallons / kg

  • Global weighted average reported by Poore & Nemeck (2018). The study is the most thorough meta-analysis for the environmental impact of food published to date. The value represents 21 Life Cycle Analyses (LCA), and 37 independent production systems modeled, mostly in the peer reviewed literature. Individual LCA studies are weighted according to their representativeness of the country they were performed in, as well as that country’s global production. The study re-samples the dataset to fill in gaps for missing data and uncertainty.

  • Water use includes all irrigation water, water extracted for processing, and food wasted.

  • Original value reported as 504.90 L / kg.

Water Footprint After Consumer Food Waste: 156.9 gallons / kg

  • The USDA ERS Loss Adjusted Food Availability (2019) reports a consumer loss of 15% for Chicken in the United States.

  • Total food loss of 15% increases the Water Footprint by 23.54 gallons / kg, or 17.6%.

  • Does not include water used for cooking.

References

Energy Information Administration (EIA; February 2, 2016). Carbon Dioxide Emissions Coefficients. See Link to Source

Home Water Works. (2019). Showers. See Link to Source

Franklin Street. (May 23, 2019). How Large is a Parking Space? See Link to Source

Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360(6392), 987-992.

Recipe Tips. (2020). Chicken Cooking Times. See Link to Source

Terrell, W. (2006). Energy Requirements of Refrigerators Due to Door Opening Conditions. International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference. Paper 836.

The Engineering ToolBox. (2003). Specific Heat of Food and Foodstuff. See Link to Source

USDA ERS: US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. (2019). Loss-Adjusted Food Availability. See Link to Source

USDA Food Data Central: US Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service. (April 1, 2019). Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat and skin, raw. See Link to Source