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Posted: Jun 18, 2014

Reducing CO2 emissions through sustainable food

(Nanowerk News) In November last year Empa became a partner in the climate protection program "ONE TWO WE", established by the catering concern SV group and the environmental organisation WWF. The aim of the program is to reduce environmental damage caused by the production of food-stuffs. The results of an initial assessment have now been publicised: the CO2 emissions of Empa's staff restaurant sank by 6 per cent compared to the same period last year.
For every meal sold since the beginning of the program, the staff restaurant has managed to avoid emitting on average around 50 g of the greenhouse gas. At first glance this may seem a modest result, but when viewed in the long term it becomes significantly more impressive. Summed over the whole year, this amounts to more than 14 t of CO2 – the amount that would be emitted by a car driven around the Earth three times, and this “merely” due to using more sustainable food products. Environmental protection on a plate, one could say.
Urs Roth, manager of the SV Restaurant at Empa explains. “Last year we were careful to ensure that more of our raw materials originated locally. In addition we have drastically reduced the amount of foodstuffs we use which are transported by air." Instead, significantly more products are being purchased which are delivered via land or sea routes. In addition, attention has focused on increasing in-house efficiency. "For example we have been able to save energy by using timer switches on our kitchen appliances and through more efficient lighting, fitted during the renovation of the restaurant last year.”
Patrick Camele, CEO SV Group, with Empa’s Director Gian-Luca Bona
Patrick Camele, CEO SV Group, with Empa’s Director Gian-Luca Bona (left) at the start of the project in 2013.
Seasonal, regional, efficient – and fair
The SV Group launched the "ONE TWO WE" environmental protection program together with the WWF Switzerland 2˝ years ago. "We have defined 14 scientifically based measurement criteria specifically for our organisation. These help us to operate in the most climate-friendly way possible," says Kornell Otto, "ONE TWO WE" Project Leader. "They include – among other things – a seasonal calendar, data on the energy efficiency of household appliances and the preferential use of regional products, Fairtrade labels and similar environmentally friendly products.”
The aim of the project is to reduce the energy consumption and, above all, the associated CO2 emissions, of the participating restaurants and canteens. It is hoped that within three years of the start of the project, carbon dioxide emissions can be lowered by 20 per cent.
"In the first six months during which the changes introduced by the project at the Empire canteen began to take effect, we managed to reduce CO2 emissions by 6 per cent," maintains Otto. "All the restaurant facilities involved in the programme are achieving reductions between four and twelve per cent.”
The fact that Empa’s personnel restaurant is not among the highest achievers is not necessarily a negative point.
“Taking into account the fact that the climate protection programme has only been running for six months at Empa, a six per cent reduction is a pretty good performance. We are continually introducing further measures in order to achieve the target of a 20 per cent reduction,” says Otto.
As the development programme has progressed, feedback from users of the SV Group’s restaurants and canteens has been increasingly taken into account. The project’s website homepage has a feedback facility which is used enthusiastically.
“Much of the feedback and comments regarding our activities actually comes from Empa staff members," commented Otto with a smile.
Urs Leemann, Head of Empa’s Support Department, and therefore the person ultimately responsible for the staff canteen, it's very satisfied with progress of the "One Two We" environmental protection program, which is unique in Switzerland. “This program is ideally suited to us as a research institution. On top of that as a federal government organisation we like to lead by setting a good example.”
Source: By Martin Rechsteiner, Empa
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