Water, waste and carbon are three key areas that have a direct impact on the long-term wellbeing of the planet. While we all bear some responsibility as individuals, it’s unquestionably industry that drives the highest levels of consumption.
Conserving water, eliminating unnecessary waste and cutting carbon emissions in your business is primarily about minimising your environmental impact, but it also provides a real opportunity to reduce operating costs.
In addition, with today’s consumer more interested than ever in supporting sustainable businesses, the smart management of resources can act as a marketing tool with the power to improve your brand image. Results from Nutritics’ 2022 Sustainability Sentiment Index — based on 2,000 respondents across the UK — show that consumers actively want to make more sustainable choices when eating or drinking out, and want more transparency from hospitality businesses when it comes to the effects their choices have on the environment.
The report found that 64% of consumers think hospitality venues/brands could do more to reduce their environmental impact, while almost half (45%) say that a venue’s commitment to sustainability is an important part of deciding where to go and spend money.
Whether you look at it from an environmental perspective or purely from a business standpoint, it’s clear that companies in the hospitality and foodservice sector (HaFS) urgently need to measure and reduce their water use, waste generation and carbon emissions. In this article, we discuss why these are such important metrics when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of your business, and share valuable tips on how to get started.
Why worry about water use?
Many of us don’t consider the water footprint of our meals, but food production relies heavily on water availability. It’s estimated that 70% of all extracted freshwater is used for agriculture alone, while a further 20% goes to the production and processing industries.
With the effects of climate change ever more evident, water scarcity is quickly becoming a more pressing concern, with worrying consequences. Our growing population will require future increases in food production — and increased production will demand larger water supplies.
The modern, Western-style diet includes a lot of meat and sugar, both of which require immense volumes of water. Without more effective management of water usage in food and drink production worldwide, major repercussions are inevitable, including food shortages, rising food prices, famine and geopolitical instability.
How to tackle water consumption
It’s no surprise that a restaurant’s most significant use of water is in the kitchen, with the combined requirements of equipment operation, food prep, cleaning and hand hygiene. The good news is that restaurants that implement water-efficient practices can also reap the additional benefits of reduced operating costs and energy use.
Why worry about food waste?
It’s hard to overstate the impact of food waste on the environment — and the hospitality industry’s contribution to this problem. The United Nations Environment Programme's 2021 Food Waste Index found that an estimated 931 million tonnes of food goes to waste every year, 26% of which comes from foodservice. This is a direct cause of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and food insecurity.
Growing, producing and transporting food use huge amounts of water, fossil fuel and energy in themselves; when that food is wasted, so are these resources. Furthermore, the disposal of food waste to landfill is one of the biggest contributors of methane to our atmosphere.
How to tackle food waste
The best way to deal with food waste is to prevent it from happening in the first instance, maximising financial and carbon savings by preventing raw materials being used unnecessarily. In addition,you’ll be saving money on disposal, creating a more efficient kitchen in which everything purchased is used. Read on for advice on how to achieve a real reduction in the amount of food waste produced in your kitchen.
When it comes to the waste you can’t prevent, follow the food waste hierarchy to find the next best course of action.
Why worry about carbon tracking and reporting?
The global food industry is responsible for a substantial proportion of the climate crisis, making it clear that ‘radical, rapid change’ is required to effect a drastic reduction in carbon emissions in this sector. It’s impossible to create any strategic climate action plan without understanding exactly where your business’ carbon emissions originate.
For many food businesses, the majority of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions lie outside their own operations. In addition to minimising environmental impact, understanding these scope 3 emissions also allows organisations to:
- increase corporate accountability,
- be prepared for the advent of potential regulations in the future,
- improve the energy efficiency of end products, potentially at numerous points throughout the value chain,
- evaluate and improve procurement strategies, and see cost reductions as a result,
- be guided by sustainability in future product design, and
- potentially boost sales, since today’s consumer is increasingly attracted to ethical business practices.
In addition to the above, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is on the immediate horizon. The CSRD is a new EU legislation under which large companies are obligated to publish reports on their environmental and social impact activities. For the first time, sustainability reporting will be made mainstream, placed on an equal footing to traditional financial reporting, independently audited and based on common EU standards.
Companies are required to submit a report in January 2024, for the 2023 financial year. This makes it crucial for companies to prepare now, or risk falling behind. In analysing your supply chain in order to identify and fix problem areas, your business can not only comply with the CRSD, but also safeguard against future legislative developments.
How to tackle carbon tracking and reporting
It’s clear that a solution is needed to provide accurate emissions data for the food industry, without exhausting time and money, and without having a negative impact on operations. Scope 3 emissions often make up the bulk of a food business’s carbon footprint, but are also the most challenging to track. Because of the variety of scope 3 emissions, and the fact that they occur throughout all stages of the value chain, they can be hard to define and difficult to calculate.
At Nutritics, we know how busy the food industry can be; that’s why we’ve created a system that does the hard work for you. Foodprint is a reliable and fully automated scope 3 reporting and carbon labelling system for food businesses, making it more straightforward than ever to track and measure the environmental impact of your business.
As you enter recipes into Nutritics, your Foodprint score is updated, taking into account the environmental impact specific to each ingredient. Changes made to foods, recipes and suppliers are updated in real-time, allowing you to make changes to recipes to reduce their impact on the environment. There are even easy-to-understand graphics that can be added to your menu, giving your customers the transparency they crave.
Read more about Foodprint below, or get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how Foodprint can make sustainability easier for your food business.