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2 February 2015  

Helsinki measures the environmental impact of its catering service

Since 2012, the City of Helsinki has been working on a 3 year strategy to raise awareness of the climate impact of food amongst customers, stakeholders, and personnel of the City Council and its catering service. This follows on from a project in 2010, which drew the attention of City Officials to the high environmental impact of the global food chain compared to other areas commonly associated with emissions, such as traffic and logistics.

In order to set long term sustainability goals that would have a real impact, the City invested in monitoring the municipal catering service’s carbon footprint. Data was drawn from three key areas: food procurement, direct energy consumption of food production and internal logistics of the catering service. Energy consumption was estimated by scaling the actual data from earlier research, while logistics information was calculated using the mileage and models of the different transport vehicles used. A cloud based calculation tool was used to work out the emissions levels of the different areas.

Results were extremely interesting. Food purchasing and ingredients were responsible for the largest proportion of the carbon footprint (58%). Of this, 35% came from meat and 46% from dairy products. Direct energy consumption accounted for 41% of the carbon footprint. Logistics accounted for only 1% of the whole. This information will be used to inform the city’s carbon reduction strategy going forward.

For more information, read the GPP case study.