Piloting a Climate Calculator for Restaurant Meals

Artikkelikuva: Piloting a Climate Calculator for Restaurant Meals

The carbon footprint of products and services is now getting a lot of attention in different industries and sectors. Calculating the carbon footprint supports business development and helps consumers to make more informed choices. This spring, the pilot restaurants of the Mission Zero Foodprint will be testing a OpenCO2.net based Climate Calculator of individual meals developed by Clonet Oy. Within the pilot, the aim is also to determine how the carbon footprint could be best communicated to the customers.

The key factor that contributes to the carbon footprint of restaurants is the ingredients of the meals. By paying attention to purchasing of the ingredients and recipes, restaurants can have a major effect on the carbon footprint of the meal served to customers. In addition to the ingredients of meals, energy consumption has a significant impact on the carbon footprint of restaurants. In order to reduce the carbon footprint in a determined manner and make activities more sustainable, measured data and suitable tools are required.

The purpose of the Mission Zero Foodprint project is to map how the carbon footprint of restaurants can be reduced through their daily practices. In the project, Forum Virium Helsinki is coordinating an agile piloting programme in which the best methods for measuring and managing the carbon footprint of restaurant activities are developed through digital solutions. The companies selected in the agile piloting programme get to experiment and co-create solutions in authentic settings. The ten different pilot restaurants of the project act as living labs, providing a real life environment that highlights the practical needs and experiences of daily restaurant activities.

OpenCO2.net service opens up the emissions of restaurant activities

One of the companies to pilot their solution is Clonet Oy, a company specialized in the development of responsible and carbon neutral business operations and measuring of carbon footprints. The OpenCO2.net carbon footprint platform developed by Clonet provides companies with tools to calculate carbon footprints and compare emission levels. The calculators of the service are based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and ISO14067 emission calculation standards, and emission factor data collected from reliable sources. During the pilot, Clonet is developing a climate calculator for individual meals, customised for restaurants on the basis of the OpenCO2.net tools. With the calculator, restaurants can calculate the environmental impact of the preparation of a single meal.

“The objective of the pilot is to provide restaurants with a solution that helps to identify the factors that affect the carbon footprint of the restaurant’s own activities. The solution also makes it possible to compare the impact of different choices on the carbon footprint of an individual meal. The basis of the pilot is to allow restaurants to take the environment into account in their daily activities without it increasing the workload of the staff significantly,” says Clonet’s CEO Sari Siitonen.

Co-creation with restaurants is at the heart of the pilot. The aim is to develop the solution together with the network by considering the lessons learned from the pilot and the feedback collected from users. Clonet started the pilot by interviewing the restaurants involved. In the initial interviews, experts studied the restaurants’ needs and motivation for reducing their carbon footprint.

“The restaurants have been really interested in the pilot and co-operation with them has been seamless. They have provided us with lots of baseline data and valuable insights on how to develop the calculator. It is important for the calculator to be both reliable and user-friendly in order to allow different restaurants to use it for business development purposes,” says Roosa Jaakkola, Clonet’s Manager of Carbon Footprint Services.

The pilot restaurants experiment with the calculator for two months by calculating the carbon footprint of selected meals or entire menus. The calculator makes it possible to compare different ingredients and supports planning environmentally friendly meals. In addition to developing the restaurant’s daily activities, the goal is to study together how the collected data on carbon footprint could be utilised in customer communications in the best possible manner.

One of the restaurants piloting the climate calculator is Café Tin Tin Tango in Töölö. “We are hoping to find a user-friendly tool that allows monitoring the carbon footprint in all restaurant activities. It is wonderful to be able to test the OpenCO2.net platform during the pilot, and we are also eager to see whether telling customers about the carbon footprint of each meal affects their choices,” says Tio Tikka, who runs Tin Tin Tango and several other restaurants in Helsinki. 

Sustainable restaurant activities through experimentation

During this spring’s piloting programme, the carbon footprint of restaurant operations is also being reduced through solutions that prevent food waste. In addition to Clonet’s OpenCO2.net based Climate Calculator, the restaurants are experimenting with two other digital tools selected in the call for pilot projects that focus on food waste.

In addition to the digital solutions, Laurea University of Applied Sciences is working on the best practices for reducing carbon footprint and food waste together with the pilot restaurants. Various restaurants, institutions of higher education, City experts and companies are involved in the project’s co-creation activities. The process will continue with pilots this spring as the pilot restaurants provide feedback and ideas for development concerning the solutions they have experimented on. The most valuable learnings and best practices of the experiments will be included in a digital workbook at the end of the project.

The Mission Zero Foodprint project brings together restaurant and food services industry companies, developers and interest groups to co-create restaurant operating processes aiming towards carbon neutrality. The project involves testing and developing digital tools and piloting new operating models in collaboration with restaurants in the Uusimaa region. The project is coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki, with Laurea University of Applied Sciences serving as project partner. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council.

Photo:  Brooke Lark / Unsplash

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