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Carbon impact

Aurélie Stewart, CSR manager of Elior Group: "We play an active role in limiting the carbon impact of the 5 million meals we cook per day”

Aurélie Stewart
As an actively committed player in the transition in our eating habits and food production methods, Elior Group has fixed an objective to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per meal by 12% between 2020 and 2025. Interview with Aurélie Stewart, Group CSR manager, who gives an insight into the challenges at hand.

The Elior group has set itself an objective to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. What's new about this?

Aurélie Stewart With this new objective to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 12%, we are setting ourselves yet another goal. The entire global food chain accounts for one third of CO2 emissions. Because we prepare roughly 5 million meals a day, we must find concrete solutions to limit the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our activities. For several years now, we have been taking measures to increase the percentage of our sustainable supplies, to fight against food waste and to offer healthy meals. Our focus now is to reflect on the actions we should take to reduce our carbon impact. Let me remind everybody that reducing our carbon footprint will directly impact our client’s ones as well !

Our starting point is measuring our carbon footprint. This enables us to understand the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and therefore identify the 3 levers for improvement: energy, food waste and menu development.

In a nutshell, before significantly offsetting its emissions, Elior has decided, through its militant posture, to reduce them. However, offset projects exist in the Elior ecosystem: for example, Elior Solidarités supports two associations specializing in agroecology, making a positive contribution to Elior's carbon impact.

Because we prepare roughly 5 million meals a day, we must find concrete solutions to limit the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our activities.

Aurélie StewartCSR manager of Elior Group

How can a caterer such as Elior take concrete action to reduce its carbon emissions?

AS Concretely, this commitment can be maintained thanks to actions carried out in the field and in a realistic and measurable way.

First of all, we can take action regarding our energy consumption. Our goal is to source at least 80% of our energy needs from renewable electricity by 2025 and to reduce our energy consumption per meal. Regular audits carried out at our sites make it possible to identify concrete levers of action. We have implemented a lot of initiatives in this domain over the years; an approach that is first and foremost based on common sense.

Secondly, we are taking action to combat food waste. All the countries where Group is present deploy anti-waste programs and our global objective is to reduce this waste by 30%. In France and Spain, for example, Elior has forged a partnership with Too Good To Go to offer employees the opportunity of purchasing take-outs of surplus unconsumed canteen lunches. In Italy, Elior teams support schools to measure waste and determine the appropriate remedial actions to take.

Thirdly, reducing the carbon impact of our recipes. To achieve this, the Group has launched a host of solutions that differ from culture to culture.

With regard to recipe development, does this mean that the actions implemented differ from one country to another?

AS Exactly, because we do not cook in the same way in Italy and in the UK. Our idea is to fix our goals at Group level, then implement appropriate actions that are suitable for each country, respecting their cultural and culinary diversity. For example, in the UK, vegetarian cuisine is already well established in the culinary culture, and represents nearly 40% of our recipes. Elior’s UK teams therefore will be looking to substitute ingredients such as beef, that emit a lot of carbon, with other less carbon-intensive products such as chicken or vegetables. In the USA, where a great amount of beef is consumed, we’ll seek to replace this animal protein with other less carbon-intensive. In France, on the other hand, because the demand for vegetarian cuisine is growing, French chefs will be required to offer more and more vegetarian meals. The same is true in Spain, where chefs are following a training program to develop their expertise in vegetarian recipes.

To get the entire company on board, particularly the kitchen teams, it is essential that each country have a roadmap adapted to its specific cultural profile.

To get the entire company on board, particularly the kitchen teams, it is essential that each country have a roadmap adapted to its specific cultural profile.

Aurélie StewartCSR manager of Elior Group

How do you determine the impact of these actions on the overall carbon footprint of the Group?

AS Each country is given a transparent set of operational objectives adapted to its local challenges and culinary culture. These operational objectives are then translated at group level into greenhouse gas emissions.

In particular, we have created a tool that allows businesses to translate the impact of their everyday actions into carbon, such as the carbon impact of replacing 20% of beef with chicken, which emits less carbon, or the impact of reducing our electricity consumption by 5% in a central kitchen?

This improvement process involves all levels of the company, from our operational teams to the management bodies.

 

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