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How public catering accelerates sustainability: a German case study

  • Public catering has become increasingly important in recent years. With increasing annual customers, the sector’s impact on the environment is also growing continuously. At the same time, public catering offers a lever to promote sustainable nutrition that has rarely been used so far. Small changes in kitchen practices and food offers can thus be multiplied into a significant positive impact on environmental challenges, such as climate change or loss of biodiversity due to the large number of servings. In contrast to private households, management decisions in public catering can influence the food- related environmental impact of thousands of customers. This article deals with the nationwide level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and resource use in the German public catering segment “business” and its saving potentials by different scenarios of unsupported and supported recipe revision. In this paper, we define "unsupported" as the intuitive optimization of recipes by employees of public catering businesses. In contrast, “supported” approaches had to meet specific target goals, for example of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung; engl. German Nutrition Society or the sustainable level. Specifically, we will test how (A) an unsupported recipe revision, (B) a recipe revision based on dietary recommendations and (C) a recipe revision using scientific guidance affect the environmental impact of a dish. As a methodological framework, an online survey of public catering companies was conducted as well as a scenario analysis at menu level and at nationwide level. The results are based on empirical data on the one hand, and on extrapolations on the other. The results show that the nationwide implementation of recipe revision according to scientific guidance—such as concrete target goals for the GHG emissions per serving—can save up to 44% of resource use in the German business catering sector (which corresponds to 3.4 million tons of resources per year) and as much as 40% of GHG emissions (0.6 tons GHG emissions per year). Even in the scenario of unsupported recipe revision, GHG and resource savings of up to 20% can be realized. The results show that public catering can reduce its material and carbon footprint by 20% overnight. Moreover, the findings show indications for the sustainable transformation of public catering. Nevertheless, it must be noted that these are some first steps of the transformation, which will require further changes with even greater impacts and political activities.
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Author:Melanie Speck, Lynn Wagner, Felix Buchborn, Fara Steinmeier, Silke Friedrich, Nina Langen
Parent Title (English):Sustainability Science
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2022/08/23
Year of first Publication:2022
Provider of the Publication Server:FH Münster - University of Applied Sciences
Release Date:2022/08/23
Tag:Business catering; carbon footprint; nutritional footprint; sustainable diet; sustainable nutrition
Faculties:iSuN Institut für Nachhaltige Ernährung
Publication list:Friedrich, Silke
Steinmeier, Fara
Licence (German):License LogoBibliographische Daten