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Energy efficiency could save catering industry £250m


The UK's catering industry could save more than £250 million in energy bills every year if it optimised and improved its kitchen design, equipment selection and menu options, according to the Carbon Trust.


A new analysis from the not-for-profit company highlights the fact that catering operations account for almost two per cent of total emissions from businesses and the public sector in the UK.


It estimates that more than 8 billion meals are served each year, at 260,000 different sites. These cost about £770 million in energy bills and result in emissions of about 3.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).


'Acutely sensitive'

The Carbon Trust is urging businesses operating in the catering sector to take a more strategic, long-term approach to the problem.


Associate Director of business advice, Dominic Burbridge, said: 'The catering industry is acutely sensitive to volatility across its entire cost base, with inflation outstripping RPI (the Retail Price Index) over the last 10 years.


'A great way to tackle this is to improve energy efficiency in kitchens - an area that is not currently regulated. We've demonstrated how the catering industry could save more than three pence per meal served, which presents a significant opportunity for industry leaders who take a proactive approach to enhance the economic and environmental sustainability of their businesses.'


Practical ideas

The report claims that caterers can realistically save more than 30 per cent on energy - over £250 million - and more than a million tonnes of carbon per year by focusing on energy efficiency.


It recommends that they should look at:

  • Reducing menu complexity

  • Optimising opening hours versus the number of meals served

  • Planning menus in a way that minimises food wastage

  • Designing kitchen layouts and sizes that match demand and optimise use of space

  • Choosing energy efficient kitchen equipment (e.g. Energy Technology List standard refrigerators), at the right sizes

  • Replacing gas or electric hobs with more efficient induction units

  • Switching from electric to gas-combi steamers

  • Training staff on how to minimise day-to-day energy consumption (e.g. by using full dishwasher loads to minimise the number of cycles, and storing food correctly).

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