Carbon Dioxide Shortage in Europe

In a world where scientists are trying to discover new and economic methods for removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere in order to mitigate against the damage it can wreak on global warming through climate change, Europe finds itself needing more of the substance in order to support its food and beverage industry. Although far too plentiful in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide used in the industry is in short supply due to closures of ammonia plants. Ammonia plants have been closing for either planned updates or production issues. These ammonia plants, which are part of the fertilizer industry, supply carbon dioxide to the food and beverage industry since it is a byproduct of the ammonia produced for fertilizer.

Carbon dioxide is used in several different aspects of the food and beverage industry. As you might guess, it gives Coke and other carbonated beverages its fizz. It also is used in the production of beer, which is why beer producers across Europe have warned of the possibility of shortages in the coming weeks; this is particularly possible given the heat that has encapsulated the continent as well as the increase in drinking caused by fans watching the World Cup. However, beverages are not the only products that could see shortages in the coming weeks. The pork industry uses carbon dioxide to stun pigs before slaughter. It is also used in packaging meats and vegetables to extend the shelf life of the product. Even a crumpet manufacturer says shortages are possible since it uses carbon dioxide in its packaging.

The shortage could last into September when ammonia plants are expected to reopen. In the meantime, some manufacturers will cut back on production of some products or look to alternatives for packaging and livestock processing. This could theoretically open up a new wave for ideas about what to do with all of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Additional reading:

de Sousa, Agnieszka, From beer to pigs, Europe hit by carbon dioxide shortageBloomberg Law News, July 3, 2018.


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