The first in our guest blog contributor series is from Lauren Hunter, Commercial Director at Loopcycle- partners of Net Zero Now for the hospitality sector. Lauren advises on how commercial kitchens can become more sustainable whilst also giving the business an economical and morale boost...
The Sustainable Commercial Kitchen: Beyond Energy Efficiency
In today's rapidly evolving world, sustainability has become more than just a buzzword—it's a commitment to a better future. As we navigate the complexities of modern commercial kitchens, it's crucial to understand that true sustainability goes beyond energy efficiency. In this article, we'll delve into the nuances of what constitutes a sustainable commercial kitchen, exploring areas often overlooked. Join me, Lauren Hunter, Commercial Director at Loopcycle, as we uncover the stainless steel elephant in the room and the potential hidden waste streams within your kitchen.
Beyond Energy Efficiency: Defining Sustainability
When it comes to making your commercial kitchen more sustainable, the first step is understanding the distinction between energy efficiency and sustainability. While energy-efficient equipment is undeniably essential in reducing operational costs and environmental impact, it doesn't guarantee an overall sustainable approach.
True sustainability considers a broader spectrum of factors. It encompasses the entire lifecycle of kitchen equipment, from raw material extraction and manufacturing to transportation, usage, and disposal. It takes into account sustainable sourcing of materials, ethical labour practices, and the ability to recycle or repurpose equipment at the end of its life. To ensure you're investing in sustainable equipment, look for comprehensive sustainability policies and data from manufacturers that go beyond energy efficiency claims.
Unseen Waste Stream: Kitchen Equipment at the End of Life
One often-overlooked aspect of commercial kitchen sustainability is what happens to equipment at the end of its lifecycle. Typically, kitchen equipment reaches a point where it's deemed "end of life" or “beyond economical repair” and is discarded. However, this is where we miss an opportunity to minimise waste and maximize sustainability.
Instead of sending equipment straight to the landfill, consider alternative options. Can old equipment be harvested for reusable parts or refurbished to extend its life? Is it being recycled properly to recover valuable materials? Sometimes, equipment might not even be at the end of its true life; it could merely be at the end of its first life. Exploring these possibilities can significantly reduce waste and enhance the sustainability of your kitchen.
The Stainless Steel Elephant in the Room
While there's increasing attention on reducing food emissions and waste, there's another substantial contributor to a kitchen's carbon footprint—the equipment itself. Picture the massive stainless steel elephant lurking in the kitchen, representing potentially 30 to 50 tonnes of carbon emissions, before you start using it. This equipment plays a significant role in the carbon footprint of every dish but often lacks a clear end-of-life solution.
To address this issue, we need to rethink how we approach kitchen equipment. Can we design equipment with longer lifespans in mind? Are there ways to repurpose or recycle old equipment? Should manufacturers take responsibility for recycling their products? By confronting this stainless steel elephant, we can make strides towards a net-zero carbon footprint in commercial kitchens.
In conclusion, achieving a sustainable commercial kitchen requires a holistic approach that goes beyond energy efficiency ratings. It involves scrutinising the entire lifecycle of equipment, exploring innovative solutions for end-of-life equipment, and addressing the environmental impact of manufacturing. Let's not forget that stainless steel elephant in the room, and together, we can transform our kitchens into beacons of sustainability, reducing their carbon footprint and creating a better future for all.