Press Release | 15 Dec 2023

Greenest Christmas dinner greens revealed – Brussels sprouts aren’t top of the naughty list

An enhanced 5G network could slash the carbon footprint of our traditional Christmas dinners by up to 20%. The energy saved would be the equivalent of powering every set of Christmas tree lights in London on Christmas Day (7.3 million Christmas trees).

Research by Vodafone reveals a surprising list of offenders when it comes to which vegetables are worst for the planet. Despite their reputation for gas, the modelling found Brussels sprouts aren’t the worst offenders, as they only account for an estimated 14% of the total greenhouse gases emitted, compared with potatoes (18%), carrots (18%) and peas (15%).1

The vegetables served in the UK as part of a traditional Christmas dinner on the big day are estimated to generate almost 14,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases. This is according to the research by WPI Economics, and modelling by Development Economics, commissioned by Vodafone.

However, by using 5G-enabled technologies, farmers could drive huge efficiency savings – reducing the carbon emissions of our Christmas veggies by up to 20% – the equivalent to powering the Christmas tree lights in 7.3 million UK households on Christmas Day.2

Right click or long press for the option to open the full-size image in a new browser tab.

5G can create efficiencies at the start of the supply chain when food and drink is being grown by the agriculture sector. For example, 5G-enabled drones and sensors enable real-time command and precise monitoring so farmers can manage their crops more efficiently, applying fertiliser and pesticides with more accuracy. In the final stage of food and drink production, 5G enables advancements such as Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technologies that interact with road infrastructure for more efficient journeys and less time spent idling, resulting in a reduction in emissions. All of these efficiencies are brought about by 5G and are environmental benefits that 80% of the UK population are unaware of.

This year, more than threequarters (78%) of UK adults will enjoy a traditional Christmas Dinner, in groups on average of 4-5 people, according to a survey conducted by One Poll of 2,000 UK adults, commissioned by Vodafone.

New research reveals 5G technologies could help create a greener ‘farm-to-fork’ journey, saving enough emissions as removing 78,000 delivery trucks from UK roads

If 5G technologies were applied across the food and drink supply chain, they could save 37 million tonnes of CO2e equivalent emissions between 2024 and 2035. That’s the same as removing 78,000 delivery trucks from UK roads. 

The most popular vegetables to serve are potatoes (88%), followed by carrots (81%), Brussels sprouts (75%), parsnips (64%), peas (43%), broccoli (41%), cauliflower (36%) and cabbage (21%). Bottom of the list was kale (3%).

Where possible, more than half (54%) of adults said they were likely to seek out British or locally grown veggies where possible, in support of UK farmers (78%) and to make sure veggies were as fresh as possible (58%).

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone UK, said: “While this is a light-hearted way of looking at the energy that can be saved by the deployment of proper 5G technologies – the message is a serious one and there are genuine time, money and carbon savings that can be achieved. The Christmas dinner and farming example is a topical illustration – but 5G really has the power to supercharge many UK industries and so the roll out of the infrastructure in the UK is critical for helping us meet our climate goals quicker.

Vodafone’s proposed combination with Three UK will enable us to invest £11bn over the next decade, reaching over 99% of the UK population with 5G Standalone by 2034.

A fifth of those surveyed said they didn’t realise the vegetables on their Christmas dinner plate could have a negative impact on the environment. Reassuringly, oneintwo (52%) will use up their Christmas leftovers with turkey sandwiches, while 29% will use their leftovers in bubble and squeak (29%) and 23% will opt for turkey curry (23%). 

Stay up-to-date with the very latest news from Vodafone by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn and signing up for News Centre website notifications.


1 Polling information 

This online survey of 2,000 UK adults was commissioned by Teneo on behalf of Vodafone and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected between 01/12/2023 and 06/12/2023. All participants are double-opted in to take part in research and are paid an amount depending on the length and complexity of the survey. This survey was overseen and edited by the OnePoll research team. OnePoll are MRS Company Partners, have corporate membership of ESOMAR and are Members of the British Polling Council.

2 Scientific modelling


The estimated figures are based on analysis by WPI Economics using trusted data sources, including data from the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, Department for Transport and the ONS, as well as academic literature. Overall benefits are calculated based on a Theory of Change flow, which breaks down the total effect into discrete effect channels identified through a literature review. Benefits coming from each channel are estimated and summed together (where applicable). The analysis presents emissions avoided between 2024 and 2035, assuming a staggered implementation of 5G-enabled solutions over time. The estimates are based on official government projections of CO2e emissions by industry, and the projected changes in sources of energy generation. 

Development Economics

The estimated figures relating to the Christmas dinner are the results of research quantifying the potential for savings in greenhouse gas (GHG) production in UK agriculture using precision technologies, reduction in wastage and in the transportation of the vegetables. The research specifically focuses on the potential for reduced GHG associated with the potatoes and vegetables typically served with Christmas dinner. The approach taken in the study involved the following steps.

Firstly, a survey of UK households was commissioned that asked questions about whether a Christmas meal was served, and (where if occurred) the typical number of people who attended and the different vegetables included in the meal. The survey generated responses from 2,000 UK households and was conducted by OnePoll.

In parallel, desk-based research was undertaken to investigate several aspects of UK agricultural production, including: 

  • average GHG emissions per kg of output from ‘traditional’ approaches to UK production of various crops typically associated with the Christmas meal (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, peas, etc.); 
  • average rates of UK self-sufficiency in the same crops.

In addition, desk-based research was undertaken to identify the potential scale of GHG efficiencies that are capable of being delivered through the use of precision agricultural methods and in more efficient transportation of the vegetables to supermarkets/restaurants. Precision methods include applying inputs (such as seeds, pesticides, fertilizer, and any other chemicals) onto crops in precise and informed ways using sensors and other advanced technologies, including 5G telecoms. More efficient transportation of vegetables includes deploying technology such as vehicle-to-everything which uses sensors to calculate better routes for fleets to avoid congestion and idling. The research also utilised demographic data for the UK sourced from the ONS, including estimates of the number of families. Specific data sources are available upon request.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693


Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587