Tech start-up launches carbon labels for restaurants

Foodsteps has launched a new technology in the UK that enables restaurants and food businesses to calculate and label the environmental impact of their food.

The carbon-tracking start-up was founded by Cambridge University alumni Anya Doherty with the aim of responding to challenges facing food businesses looking to improve their sustainability and reach net zero.

The company has developed what it describes as the "world’s first impact database" based on the most up to date scientific data regarding food Life Cycle Impacts. The database incorporates carbon footprint, pollution, water use, and land use impacts, from "farm to fork to waste."

Based on UK food consumption, the database contains impact data of over 1,000 ingredients.

On the platform, food providers can upload recipes and view the sustainability impact of each ingredient. The platform can be used to monitor targets, develop new recipes, and improve a menu or product’s sustainability.

From there, companies can choose to print their own labels to clearly communicate the environmental impact of a product. These labels provide a traffic light rating from A-F, A meaning low environmental impact, F meaning high environmental impact.

The labels were developed following the world’s largest study into carbon labelling conducted by Cambridge University, and co-led by Foodsteps founder Anya, that tested labels on 85,000 consumers.

Food companies can also make use of Foodsteps’ virtual education tools, with each label containing a QR code that buyers can scan to learn more about the products’ impact and what the company is doing on sustainability.

“Restaurants, caterers, and food providers are increasingly looking for ways to review, improve, and demonstrate their action on sustainability,” said Anya Doherty, chief executive and founder of Foodsteps. “Foodsteps allows them to do that, by giving them access to the latest technology and data, without the commitment and fees associated with traditional carbon assessments. With our platform, consumer tools, and carbon labelling capabilities, brands can differentiate themselves in the market and communicate with customers in ways they never have before.”

Doherty added: “It is my belief that if we can make assessing and communicating environmental information in the food industry more accessible and standardised, there is no reason why it won’t become as widespread as nutritional information.”

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