What are the CO2 Emissions from a Stainless Steel Lunch Box?

What are the CO2 Emissions from a Stainless Steel Lunch Box?

co2 emissions stainless steel lunch box clouds sky

We Must Act Now

The issue of Carbon Emissions is becoming more and more pressing. The more we learn, the more we realise that human beings need to act to reduce our carbon footprint. 

There are lots of human activities that produce CO2 such as taking fossil fuels from the earth and burning them. Others include degrading peatlands and forests to allow carbon trapped in the soils and plants to be released, and damaging sea beds that are rich in plant life.

We may wish to reduce our emissions but it can be hard to find reliable information to help us to make informed decisions. This can result feeling baffled, overwhelmed with greenwashing and can often lead to a "why bother?" attitude such as when you are told that the recycling that you carefully cleaned and sorted is sent to landfill!

Mintie Lunchboxes has decided to offset the carbon emissions of the production of our lunchboxes. This means that for the carbon dioxide emissions of every product that you buy, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide will be absorbed through the carbon offsetting scheme run by Ecologi. There are several types of carbon offset schemes in place around the world and they include forestry, alternative energy, carbon capture and community projects. The projects we use are forestry (growing trees).

So how much CO2 is produced when you decide to buy a stainless steel lunchbox?

Steel production is an energy intensive process. It requires mining Iron, Nickel and Chromium; refining these ingredients and converting them to sheet stainless steel. This is where the bulk of the CO2 is emitted - in the generation of electricity. As you probably know, the CO2 that is emitted from alternative energy (wind, hydro, solar) and nuclear is very small, whilst gas is greater and coal being the worst. The energy mix is therefore a key factor.

Further to this, newer steel production methods that use electrical furnaces are more energy efficient than older blast furnaces that burn fuel directly.

The production of stainless steel products uses a relatively smaller amount of energy to cut and press; clean and polish. Other materials such as silicone used for seals and lids; and paper products used as packaging also create a small amount of CO2.

Then shipping from the factory to the warehouse and from the warehouse to the customer are similarly small.

Generally, across the industry, stainless steel production utilises up to 60% recycled content and 40% new materials. Of course, using recycled content reduced the carbon emissions dramatically as it avoids the first two steps of the process.

Here is a breakdown of the figures we use to calculate the CO2 emissions equivalent to the production of a Snug Midi Lunch Box

Source  Quantity of CO2 in kg
Production of Stainless Steel 0.77
Manufacture of Lunchbox 0.19
Packaging 0.12
Silicone Seal 0.09
Shipping to UK 0.09
Shipping to Typical Customer 0.05
Total 1.31


We have assumed a rate of 2kg CO2 per kg of Stainless Steel. This is the figure that research from the ISSF (The International Stainless Steel Forum) calculated. 

The wider picture

When considering the carbon emissions of a product, the complete lifecycle should be taken into consideration. The two main factors here are the length of use (its life) and the recyclability. These are two areas that stainless steel really excels. Firstly, it lasts a really long time, it is tough and doesn't corrode, leading to a product that is useful for a really long time. Secondly, it is 100% recyclable. It is as good as new stainless steel when recycled, so it can be recycled over and over again. 

Once produced, stainless steel has good long term utility and minimal environmental impact.


If you would like to talk to us about this, please email us