What’s in a bar of chocolate?

Chocolate – don’t you just love it? But can we make it more environmentally friendly?

Our Make It Better campaign calls for better-designed products that do less damage to the planet.

We want to get away from confusing labelling. Instead we want producers to be more responsible for how things are made.

To start off, we thought we'd take a look at chocolate.

Chocolate and the environment

Thirsty work: water

100g of plain chocolate requires 1700 litres. Most of this water is used in the cocoa production.

Solution

It's possible to use a lot less water. Cadbury, for example, reuses 30% of waste water at its cocoa processing site in Chirk.

Burping cows: carbon

Producing a 49g Cadbury Dairy Milk bar releases 169g of greenhouse gas emissions, much of it as methane from dairy cows.

Solution

A diet with plenty of minerals curbs excessive belching. Locally-grown feed, instead of imported soy, also reduces dairy farming's carbon footprint.

Wrapper's delight

Cadbury found packaging accounted for only 2% of a Dairy Milk bar's emissions. This is good news.

Solution

But let's not get complacent. Over-packaged Easter eggs, for example, show there's still work to be done.

Bean scene: cocoa

Sometimes forest is cleared to grow cocoa in plantations which need increased irrigation and use chemical fertilisers and herbicides.

Solution

Cocoa is successfully grown under tree canopy, which aids moisture retention and prevents disease. Let's see more of this.

Palm oil

Palm oil lurks in many chocolates.  In south-east Asia, rainforests are cut down to grow palm oil, releasing carbon dioxide and threatening wildlife.

Solution

Why use palm oil at all? After all, chocolate maker Divine produces delicious treats without it.

Support our campaigns

This is based on an article that first appeared in 'Earthmatters', Friends of the Earth's supporter magazine.

Make a regular donation and you can keep up to date with our campaigns with 3 issues of 'Earthmatters' each year.