A company, restaurant or hotel that doesn’t generate any CO2 emissions? That’s just impossible! After all, as soon as anything is produced, packaged or transported, emissions are generated. What climate neutrality really means is reducing emissions as far as possible and offsetting those that remain (through efforts such as reforestation projects) so that the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that damage the climate does not increase. That’s not just good for the planet but also for companies and HoReCa customers.
What makes a company climate neutral?
Restaurateurs that pay attention to their own carbon footprint and contribute to adherence to climate targets are acting in harmony with international agreements and are well positioned to react to new laws and regulations. That also helps them adapt to new market requirements and trends. Olaf Schulze, Director of Energy Management at METRO PROPERTIES, summarises the benefits as follows: ‘Climate protection is forward-thinking and ensures that we can fulfil not only our own needs but also those of the next generation.’
For sustainable success, a long-term, positive impact on society and the environment is crucial. Hotels, restaurateurs and caterers that pay attention to their operational sustainability can use their commitment to win new customers for whom climate protection, health and conscious consumption are important. According to a consumer survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, awareness of sustainability has recently seen another sharp rise: it suggests that 43% of consumers are prepared to pay a higher price for healthier food, 42% indicate a willingness to pay more for local products and 39% for more environmentally-friendly packaging. Increased environmental awareness also makes employers more attractive to potential employees and can increase the motivation of the workforce.
Fewer operational emissions – but how?
The first step in reducing a company’s carbon footprint – and being able to offset this enough to achieve climate neutrality – is to measure it. This means analysing all the emissions a business creates. Business owners should consider this on 3 levels:
1. The emissions a business causes directly – for example through its own vehicle fleet, through cooking, purchasing or delivery and through food waste.
2. The indirect emissions that relate to the business but are generated by external service providers. For example, emissions created by energy suppliers that provide power for company buildings, or arising from meat production.
3. The indirect emissions that are not in the business’s direct sphere of influence but are part of the overall supply chain – for example, emissions generated by suppliers or in the manufacturing of upstream products or food, or for example when employees and guests drive to the restaurant.
To reduce their carbon footprint, hotels, restaurateurs and caters can start with a few simple measures: they can optimise their storage or switch cooperation partners to reduce food waste, offer environmentally friendly single-use items, decrease water consumption or recycle waste. Converting to green electricity and energy-efficient devices also helps save on emissions. And last but by no means least, climate protection is a team effort – so it’s important to get everyone on board and look for solutions together. (More on ways to work more sustainably: Stepping Up Sustainability – But How? 10 Tips for Restaurateurs.)
METRO itself has likewise committed to a comprehensive, long-term package of measures that it has been implementing for years and is continually improving. In July 2021 the climate target was sharpened: Until 2040, METRO aims to make its global business operations climate-neutral. The baseline value is the emissions in 2011. ‘We have converted to energy-saving LED lights in our markets and installed 49 photovoltaic systems in our markets worldwide; we use modern cooling technology with natural refrigerants to chill our foods; we are converting our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles, building charging stations for our customers and employees and building our new markets in an energy-efficient way with recyclable construction materials – to name but a few of many examples,’ says energy manager Olaf Schulze. Between 2011 and 2020, METRO had already achieved to reduce its specific greenhouse gas emissions per square metre of sales and delivery space by 34%.
Climate neutral: how METRO is supporting restaurateurs
‘We believe that the restaurant of tomorrow will be – in fact, has to be – different: more responsible and sustainable,’ Schulze says. This is why METRO is supporting HoReCa customers on their path to greater sustainability and climate-neutral ways of working. The product range includes a wide selection of organic and local products, for example, as well as a varied selection of sustainable proteins like alternative meat and fish products. With the help of the traceability solution Protrace, METRO customers can trace the origin of meat and fish end to end. In addition, METRO is supporting restaurateurs with a range of services and digital solutions. For instance, the online platform Dish provides restaurateurs with digital tools, including an online ordering button for deliveries and digital table reservation to improve table occupancy planning, simplifying efficient business management.
Together with restaurateurs, METRO wants to reduce the use of resources in the hospitality industry as far as possible and, where feasible, utilise renewable resources – for a sustainable future. Schulze explains: ‘We want to plan ahead for future developments, not only for ourselves as an international business but also for our millions of customers worldwide. For us it’s about always planning one step ahead, so as to continually improve and ultimately to shape our relationship with our planet more sustainably.’