TRA lunchboxes receive eco-certification

By Lee I-chia and Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporters

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 - Page 4

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday announced the first approved carbon footprint certification for TRA lunchboxes, which is set to be labeled on to the three most popular types of lunchboxes sold at railway stations.

The EPA said about 5 billion lunchboxes or set meals are consumed in Taiwan each year. It cooperated with the railways administration to measure the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the process of making the lunchboxes, to understand how much impact they have on global warming.

Huang Wan-chu (黃萬居), director at the EPA’s Department of Supervision Evaluation and Dispute Resolution, said that the carbon footprint level — or carbon dioxide emitted — in making the “traditional pork-chop lunchbox,” which sells for NT$60, measured 1.3kg, the “star anise pork-chop lunchbox” came in at 1.5kg (NT$80) and the “nostalgic pork chop with vegetable rice lunchbox” (NT$100) measured 1.4kg.

Carbon footprint levels were calculated for each of the five stages of the products’ life cycle, Huang said.

“Most carbon dioxide emissions happen in the ingredient--acquisition stage,” Huang said, adding that other factors, such as how pigs were raised, the choice of vegetables, the material from which the lunchbox was made, the vehicle used to transport the lunchboxes and the distance transported all contributed to the carbon footprint.

The railway administration’s Catering Service Department said it would choose healthy and low carbon emitting ingredients, as well as reusable wrapping materials, to reduce lunchboxes’ carbon footprint, in the hope of reducing the amount for pork-chop lunchboxes by 5 percent within three years.

The EPA said since it started promoting carbon footprint certification in May 2010, a total of 107 products from 40 companies have been approved.