Eco-innovative catering

Given the broad scope of the catering sector, INNOCAT focuses on the following key areas:

  • School catering services
  • Health and welfare catering services
  • Canteen meals in the workplace
  • Energy efficient vending machines
  • Bio-waste disposal systems

These areas have been targeted due to the large market share they have across the European Union, thus providing sufficient scope for achieving a significant impact through the uptake of more efficient and sustainable solutions.

Environmental impacts

The nature of the sector, particularly with regard to the transportation of food, non-recyclable waste produced and energy and water consumption of kitchen equipment, results in considerable environmental impacts. A large part of these impacts are caused by the following:

  • Amount of packaging and (particularly for event catering) single-use cutlery and tableware required by the sector
  • Generation of non-recyclable food and packaging waste
  • High consumption of energy and water in equipment and machinery used to perform catering services (fridges, ovens, dishwashing machines, etc.) and the harmful substances such as HFCs and HCFCs which these may contain
  • Pollution of water resources through the dispersion of chemicals contained in cleaning products used
  • Emissions of exhaust gases from vehicles used to carry out the catering service

While the environmental impacts resulting from activities in the catering sector are very high, there is considerable scope to reduce these. There are a number of current and emerging eco-innovation trends in the food and drink sector which can result in more sustainable catering services. These include the use of more sustainable resources (organic and seasonal food), sustainable food processing, ecosupply or network management, more sustainable outputs (e.g. biomass energy), packaging and waste recycling (e.g. smart or eco packaging) and industrial processes (e.g. automation and monitoring)