Catering initiative targets £80m energy savings

Leading public and private bodies have pledged to purchase “progressively lower carbon catering goods and services” as part of a bold new procurement initiative announced by the government yesterday.

The commercial catering market — along with the transport and bio-gas sectors — have been identified as three sectors where significant environmental savings can be made through a more sustainable approach to sourcing equipment.

In what marks a rare alliance between public and private sector buyers, low carbon suppliers are being challenged to fulfil more than £1 billion worth of procurement contracts across the three sectors.

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In the catering arena, signatories such as Lloyds Banking Group — which has catering facilities in more than 80 offices — and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust — which serves three million meals a year — have stated their ambition to purchase lower carbon catering products and services.

This covers food procurement, transportation, distribution, preparation, and waste management.

Figures released by the government estimate that the total energy consumption of Britain’s catering industry is in excess of 21,600 million kWh per year.

Over 30% of the energy is used in commercial catering establishments, and more than 50% in non-commercial catering such as schools and hospitals, it reckons.

With moderate improvements in efficiency, and effective use of equipment, the parties behind the initiative believe savings of up to 20% — equivalent to £80m per year — are achievable.

Announcing the initiative yesterday, Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, said that a green economy would help UK businesses manage risks arising from fluctuating prices and increase resilience.

“The Government has a key role to play in ensuring more effective supply chain engagement, and by signalling demand for low carbon innovation,” he said. “This important initiative will help to drive investment in new and better goods and services.”

A number of organisations have put their name to the catering aspect of the initiative, including Bedford College, BT, BSkyB, EDF Energy, Government Procurement Service, Johnson Matthey, B&Q, The Rotherham NHS Trust and Wiltshire College.

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