The new initiative is the first industry-wide protocol that sets out a standard for Net Zero against which restaurants can be certified and receive an accreditation mark to display to customers. Restaurants that follow the protocol can either be certified Net Zero or have their Net Zero target date certified.
It has been developed by Net Zero Now, the small business climate action platform, working with its development partners Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) GB and Pernod Ricard UK. It makes the process of going net zero easier and more cost-effective for businesses in the restaurant sector and will be rolled out by the SRA. Together with the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative it supports the whole hospitality industry address its greenhouse gas emissions.
“Having come through the pandemic, an existential crisis for the restaurant sector for which there was no plan, operators can now go into battle against climate change armed with a set of accessible, affordable and actionable tools,” says Juliane Caillouette-Noble, managing director at the SRA.
“The Net Zero Restaurants Initiative is the best chance restaurants have to take tangible action to serve up meaningful change and enable their customers to use the power of their appetites wisely. We can’t wait to start guiding restaurants towards net zero.”
It follows a pilot scheme with restaurant operators including Hawksmoor and Wahaca that found that the cost per cover to reach net zero across the entire value chain could be as low as 7.5p on average and that if a pilot restaurant switched to 100% renewable energy tariffs, it could save nearly 600 tonnes of carbon per year, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 67,000 gallons of petrol.
The scheme also found that if a pilot restaurant replaced 10% of its meat use with plant-based options, it could save 350 tonnes of carbon per year, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions emitted by 76 cars being driven for a year, and if it replaced one quarter of its dairy usage with plant-based options it would save over 300 tonnes of carbon per year.
“Being part of the launch group for the Net Zero Restaurant Initiative means that we’re now able to focus on prioritising plans which will have the biggest impact on reducing our carbon footprint - like recently putting the whole company onto a green energy supply, and sending 100% of our food waste to anaerobic digestion where it’s turned into biogas. We even give leftover bones to our customers for their dogs,” says Hawksmoor co-founder Will Beckett.
“Getting from carbon neutral to net zero is a big priority for Hawksmoor and we’ve got the whole team working towards it.”
Mark Selby, co-founder of Wahaca, says: “In 2016, Wahaca was the first UK restaurant group to be certified carbon neutral, and making sure that we do the best for the planet continues to be a driving force across everything we do - from carefully and responsibly sourced ingredients to designing our restaurants to operate at the highest possible sustainability levels.
"The journey towards net zero is not without its challenges, but as a business the focus on being as sustainable as we possibly can be is a hugely inspiring one, and so we’re massively proud to be supporting the launch of the Net Zero Restaurants initiative.”
Businesses can access the Net Zero Restaurants protocol, which provides an industry standard for reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions, at www.netzeronow.org/restaurants.