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The vocal oatmilk brand is calling for mandatory climate labeling of food in the UK; and the global hotel chain now has carbon-labeled menus at 30 UK properties.
Oatly continues its campaign to increase transparency in the food industry — including challenging 'big dairy' to share its climate-impact data | Image credit: Oatly
Oatly has launched a campaign calling for all UK food and drink producers to
adopt climate labeling. The company — which already makes its emissions data
public and has urged the dairy industry to do the
— hopes to join forces with other companies to come up with an effective
climate-labeling system and put pressure on the UK government to make it
Oatly — an industry leader in increasing awareness of the impacts of
food through transparent, data-driven
— has also published what it’s calling a “grey paper” (highlighting the fact
that “climate labeling isn’t a black-and-white issue, where certain foods are
good and others are not”) called Climate Labeling: Why Not?, to make the
case for other companies to follow suit. The paper advocates for mandatory
climate labeling and stresses that changes in consumer behavior can play a
pivotal role in reducing these emissions.
“The food and drink we consume is responsible for a third of total UK emissions.
Scientists, including the UK Government’s own Climate Change
Committee (CCC), are clear that those emissions
must urgently come down and that consumer behavior change is a necessary part of
that,” said Bryan Carroll,
General Manager of Oatly UK and Ireland. “Given the urgency of our climate
challenge, we believe it should be as easy for shoppers to find the climate
impact of what they’re buying as it is to find its price tag.”
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The call for transparency around the climate impacts of food comes as the UK
Government establishes the Food Data Transparency
which aims to explore possible climate-labeling policies for the industry.
sustainability strategist and author of You Can’t Make Money from a Dead Planet,
told Yahoo! News:
“Any information that helps people make better environmental decisions and helps
companies measure, and ultimately reduce, their impact is to be welcomed.”
Shayler added that, even though carbon isn’t a perfect measure of environmental
impact, “it is the best one that we have” — and it may, in fact, uncover a few
surprises. For example:
“Imported tomatoes can often have a lower carbon impact than those grown in
heated greenhouses here,” he said. “It will also shine a light on production
methods — with grass-fed beef having a lower impact than beef fed on soy beans
or from areas that have been cleared of
Information is power; and this adds sharper focus to the food supply chain and
will hopefully result in lower-impact food.”
Hilton has introduced lower-impact menu items including this gochujang cauliflower wings appetizer | Image credit: Hilton
Meanwhile, after a successful trial, Hilton has ramped up its own carbon labeling with new, low-impact menus at 30 hotels across the UK.
Developed in partnership with sustainability experts
Klimato, the menus aim to show guests the
environmental impact of their food choices with a simple labeling system. Each
dish is labeled low, medium or high using a graduated green scale that
illustrates and contextualizes the carbon footprint per serving.
According to a 2018 WWF
an average UK lunch or dinner has a carbon footprint of roughly 1.6 kg CO2e; to
align with the UN’s climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, this number
should not exceed 0.5 kg CO2e.
To continue to rein in its food-related
the global hotel chain worked with Klimato to calculate the lifecycle carbon
footprint of its menu items and communicate this data with diners. Rather than
confront guests with confusing facts and numbers, the system is
to spark positive conversation, using neutral language so guests can easily
compare their options — the same carbon-labeling system used at
in Glasgow in 2021. Klimato’s label consists of a circle that is filled with
green to a level corresponding to the emissions footprint of the dish; almost
half of the dishes served at participating hotels are now identified by Klimato
as low impact.
Hilton says it is the first hotel chain in the UK to introduce carbon labeling
at scale to help guests to make more informed choices across almost 30 hotels in
cities including Leeds, Liverpool, London and Newcastle.
Early findings by Hilton suggests the system has led to a shift in guest
behavior — with low- and medium-impact dishes proving popular; as a result of
the initial engagement, Hilton says for the autumn menu it increased the
proportion of low- and medium-impact dishes to over 85 percent.
“Carbon labeling is an easy way to empower guests to make more informed choices,
and we’re delighted to see they’re already embracing these insights — whether
that’s by opting for an ultra-low emission dish or simply reducing the frequency
with which they order dishes with a higher carbon footprint,” said Emma
Banks, VP of food and
beverage strategy and development for Hilton EMEA.
Choosing a plant-based
over a beef burger, for example, results in a reduction of CO2 emissions equal
to driving 63 kilometers in a car. An example of a low-impact three-course meal
includes the new gochujang cauliflower wings appetizer, followed by a
butternut squash risotto or a fish finger sandwich, with a salted
caramel affogato for dessert — for a total of 1.2 kg CO2e.
“Hilton’s dedication to calculating, communicating and reducing their food’s
environmental impact is commendable,” says Klimato co-founder Christoffer
Connée. “By taking this
important step, they are not only leading by example but also raising awareness
about the crucial issue of food and sustainability.”
Outside the UK, Hilton Brussels Grand
the first Belgian hotel to have Klimato carbon labels — which are featured
on its à la carte menu.
Image credit: Hilton Brussels Grand Place
“The daily news makes us very aware of the impact of climate change all over the
world — our time to act is now, and we all need to play a part for change to
happen,” said GM Ellen
Deboeck. “At Hilton Brussels Grand
Place, we want to offer in our main restaurant, Sentro, a delicious menu as
well as helping our guests make more informed choices. That is where awareness
and action starts!”
Published Oct 17, 2023 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST