Sky set to add carbon labels to food at all UK staff restaurants

Broadcasting giant Sky is set to roll out carbon labelling on food served to staff and guests at all 15 of its UK sites. It believes the move could shift habits in favour of more sustainable diets.

Sky set to add carbon labels to food at all UK staff restaurants

Image: Sky

Sky has partnered with Foodsteps, a platform specialising in the calculation of lifecycle environmental impacts of food, to create the labels and related campaign, called ‘Carbon Counts’.

These labels will soon be added to foods served at all 29 restaurants at Sky’s 15 UK sites. Collectively, these sites host around 25,000 employees.

The labelling scheme provides each meal or snack with an “impact rating” grade between A and E, with the former being the highest and applied to food items with the lowest carbon intensity. Carbon intensity is calculated on an emissions-per-kilogram basis, and Foodsteps uses intensity-based metrics to enable easier comparisons between foods with different serving sizes.

Those purchasing food will also be able to see the entire carbon footprint of the food item(s) they choose.

Foodsteps has, to date, assessed the lifecycle carbon footprint of more than 1,500 food items.

Sky and Foodsteps are hoping that the labelling will give staff a better understanding of the impact which their diets have on the environment and enable them to make more informed choices. The labelling will also be used by Sky’s team of development chefs, who have been tasked with modifying recipes in the future where possible to reduce the carbon footprint of dishes.

Sky’s group director of Bigger Picture, Fiona Ball, said: “We are proud to be one of the first large corporations to launch a food emissions programme in the UK, demonstrating our commitment to workplace sustainability. Our colleagues are a vital part of our Sky Zero journey and the Carbon Counts programme empowers them to make informed choices for the planet both at work and at home.”

Sky Zero is the broadcaster’s commitment to become a net-zero carbon business by 2030. Sky has been carbon-neutral since 2006 but reaching the new 2030 target will require deeper emissions reductions and reduced use of offsetting.

Against a 2018 baseline, Sky is targeting a 50% reduction in Scope 1 (direct), Scope 2 (power-related) and Scope 3 (indirect) emissions from suppliers and product use at home. The 2030 targets are verified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in line with 1.5C.

Carbon labelling trend

survey from the Carbon Trust asked 10,000 consumers across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US for their take on carbon labelling on groceries. 51% admitted that they did not think about the carbon impact of products when making choices at the supermarket, but more than two-thirds said they would support carbon labelling. Most of this cohort said such labels would encourage them to change their purchasing choices.

Some brands sold in supermarkets have added carbon labels to their packaging, including Flora’s parent company Upfield, energy drink challenger Tenzing, Quorn Foods and plant-based milk brand Oatly.

But, as Sky’s Ball mentioned, not many large businesses serving food to staff and/or guests have trialled or adopted the approach yet.

Back in 2021, edie covered news that catering giant Compass Group was introducing eco-labels to all meals served through its business and industry (B&I) arm in the UK and Ireland. It provided carbon labelling at the COP26 summit at the SEC in Glasgow. Other events served by the Group include the Grand National, Wimbledon, The Brit Awards and the RBS 6 Nations. Additionally, it has contracts with the stadiums of several major UK football clubs including Tottenham, Chelsea, Brentford and Watford.

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