Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Environmental impacts of the food service sector - Part 1. - FO0411

This research project has been designed to examine the environmental impact associated with the food service sector. This includes operations such as staff school and military canteens (where catering is not a central function, part of what is known as the costs sector) through to commercial operations such as fast food outlets, take-aways pubs, clubs and restaurants (where the catering is a major function, known as the Profit sector).

These impacts will be studied at two levels: firstly reviewing the operations of individual canteens or restaurants and secondly looking at a range of meals and their relative impact on the environment. A number of surveys will be undertaken across the range of different types of operations (or sub sectors, e.g. pubs or school canteen) and will be selected based on a range of factors including the number of operating sites, the variability of operations and the market share of each sub-sector. Food types assessed will be principally chosen based on the popularity of food types.

The study will assess energy efficiency, waste generation, water use and social impacts with respect to the following aspects of operations:

• Transport to site;
• Storage and handling at site;
• Preparation (including cooking);
• “Delivery” to customer; and
• Issues of Social impact – (issues of litter, time of peak sales, location).

The study will be directed by a steering group which will involve key sector representatives as well as related government organisations. The project will be based on a literature review of existing information and aims to fill a gap in currently available data.

The study aims to develop a better understanding of the resource efficiency associated with the food service sector identifying key areas of improved resources efficiency, likely options for improvement and key food types and their relative environmental impact.
7. (b) Objectives

Defra have identified the aim of this project is to:

Examine the environmental burdens and resource use of the food service sector. Key outcomes will be to identify generic causes of energy inefficiency, waste and other environmental impacts (including water use and social impacts) as well as ‘hot-spots’ in specific types of food service outlets. This will enable the development of best practice to guide reductions in negative environmental impacts and/ or to identify potential science-based solutions.

To achieve these aims the following objectives have been identified:

1. Attend an Inception meeting to clarify and formulate the scope and approach of the project
2. Form a Steering Group in order to engage with relevant stakeholders and direct the approach of the project
3. Literature Review – Undertake a review of existing literature relating to resources efficiency in the food service sector. The review will be used to identify where key gaps in data exist and on what aspects the project should focus.
4. Development of Sampling Protocol and Audit Methodology – Based on the results of the literature review and input from steering group develop a sampling protocol and audit methodology to assess the impact of individual premises and food types with review and input from the Steering Group.
5. Undertake Audits – identify and audit selected premises based on the audit methodology, undertake additional surveys as considered necessary to verify findings
6. Review of Results and Reporting – undertake a review of the data and findings of the audits. Identify key areas of premise operations for improvement and likely options for improvement. Identify key food types and their relative environmental impact.
Project Documents
• Final Report : FO0411 - Environmental Impacts of the Food Service Sector   (1511k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2009

To: 2010

Cost: £196,298
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Enviros Ltd
Agriculture and Climate Change              
Carbon Dioxide              
Climate Change              
Environmental Change              
Environmental Effects              
Environmental Impacts              
Environmental Performance              
Environmental Protection              
Food and Drink              
Food Chain              
Food Industry Sustainability Strategy              
Food manufacturing industry              
Sustainable Consumption and Production              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Resource Efficient and Resilient Food Chain