CO2 impact of Formula vs Breastfeeding


A link about the increasing % of mothers breastfeeding sent around by Erzsebel got me thinking: what is the CO2 impact of breastfeeding vs formula. (Yes, I’m a geek. You didn’t realise that yet?)

So far my list of things to take into account includes the following, but if you have actually had kids, please let me know anything that I’ve missed. I’m going to start trying to put (estimated) numbers to some of these things.

Things to consider with formula:
Production and distribution of bottles,
Manufacture of formula,
Packaging of formula,
Distribution of formula,
Energy needed to sterilise bottles.
Energy needed to heat formula.

Things to consider with breastfeeding:
Possible increase in calorie intake.


6 thoughts on “CO2 impact of Formula vs Breastfeeding

  1. Energy needed to store formula (warehouse costs, lighting, heating, travel for security staff)
    Production and waste disposal of packaging

  2. There are no reliable studies giving a figure for increased calories required to breastfeed; certainly we don’t go down the formula companies’ route of telling women they will need to eat lots of nutritious food in order to make milk (cows, after all, only eat grass). Breastfeeding mums need a little bit of kit to make their life easier, but none of it is necessary. The bare minimum is probably a couple of nursing bras and some breast pads, which don’t need to be the disposable sort.

  3. And even the breast pads aren’t necessary for everyone.

    You’ll have to make a distinction though between women who are just “live” breastfeeding and those who are expressing because that entails using a plastic device (sometimes even an electric one), then storing the expressed milk either in the fridge or the freezer.

    On the other hand, not everyone heats formula – some babies like it at room temperature.

  4. After Cliff pointed out that when he viewed this page there was an advert for formula on it, maybe I should add the impacts of advertising to the calculations as well.

  5. zizila says:

    you should add at least a part of the price of the bottle sterilizer as well as heater because you can argue that if you breast feed you would not purchase those. If you do than you need to add the production and all things mentioned here earlier for those products. Going to a shop to get the formula or buying over internet and delivering it will have different impact too.

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