MO.1.E || What Gets Measured, Gets Improved – Impact Assessment and Environmental Labeling Along the Production Chain

Bradford, Sebastian; Stucki, Matthias; Berger, Verena

How can retirement homes and canteens transform their catering services into a sustainable business? Using life cycle based information, we developed a database with environmentally friendly, nutritionally balanced and popular meals for retirement homes and canteens. In order to create the database, the life cycle environmental impact of a large sample of 500 meals from municipal companies was assessed with the Ecological Scarcity Method. From this assessment a subsample of the most environmental friendly meals was selected. In the next step, the recipes were evaluated and optimized using nutritional balance models. Finally, the popularity of the meals was determined based on sales data. Since the dietary requirements of residents in nursing homes differ greatly from those of guests in canteens, two different databases were created and tested with chefs for comprehensibility and user-friendliness. In addition to the environmental, nutritional, and popularity data for the meals, chefs were provided with the total environmental impact, global warming potential, and cumulative energy use for each constituent. Since factors such as origin, processing, packaging and seasonality differ for each meal preparation, these aspects were dynamically integrated as parameters into the database. Chefs can customize the parameters for their specific ingredients (e.g., from plastic to cardboard packaging) and the environmental impact is adjusted accordingly. With the developed database, the restaurant chefs are enabled to integrate life cycle thinking into their catering service and offer sustainable, healthy and popular meals. Overall, the selection and optimization of meals reduced the average total environmental impact by 52% and the global warming potential by 48% compared to the original meals sample.