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Microwave ovens are killing the planet - and generating as much CO2 as millions of cars

Rob Waugh

Most families rely on them for quick, simple tasks like reheating meals – but microwave ovens have a huge environmental impact, researchers have warned.

In Europe, microwaves generate as much carbon dioxide as nearly 7 million cars, according to a University of Manchester stage.

The CO2 is generated throughout the product’s lifecycle (from manufacturing to disposal) meaning that 19 microwaves are equivalent to one car on the road.

The researchers say, ‘It is electricity consumption by microwaves that has the biggest impact on the environment.

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‘For example, electricity consumption by microwaves can be reduced by adjusting the time of cooking to the type of food.’

Consumers are also advised to turn off the machines when not in use, as opposed to putting them in standby.

Annual sales of microwaves are expected to hit 135 million by the end of this decade – with more microwaves sold than any other sort of oven.

Study author Alejandro Gallego-Schmid, said: ‘The aim of our study was not to compare microwaves to other cooking appliances but to look at the environmental impacts of microwaves as ubiquitous devices in households in Europe and draw attention to the need to make their design, use and end-of-life waste management more efficient.’