The Role Of Restaurants In Reducing Carbon Footprints

By Anthony K

The food and beverage industry is responsible for approximately 26% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The large industry has the opportunity to push for sustainable eating that may help consumers move towards low emissions via menu design reconfigurations.

Image courtesy of @evonics/Pexels

A recent study published in PLOS Climate reported that a restaurant’s menu design influences dish choices. Including climate-friendly dishes in the menu reduces each meal’s carbon footprint by a wide margin.

The authors generated menus for nine hypothetical restaurants adding lower-emission options as the default and used green, red, and yellow signals indicating the level of GHG emissions of each meal.

About 256 participants selected dishes after viewing the nine menus. Each menu had two sides for carbon labels and the other without. Six menus were segmental, while three menus were unitary. Modular menus had no default option or had green and red dishes as default.

Participants reduced red dishes when carbon labels were available and switched their defaults. Most participants went green with a choice of green dishes but to limited extents. A major limitation was conducting the study online, as real-life situations may be different.

Carbon labels effectively reduce GHG emissions but could be useless if consumers don’t look at carbon labels, as reported by a 2019 study. The study reiterates that some clients are more turned on by photos of the food and may overlook the carbon labels.

Image courtesy of @offvalley/Unsplash

Cutting carbon emissions in every sphere of life without excluding the food and beverage industry may help the environment in the long run. Restaurants can reduce GHG emissions by rearranging their menus and availing a low-emissions menu as the default.

Involved restaurants don’t have to change their foods but rather consumer feeding habits and preferences.