Lucy Turgoose, Green Apple Ambassador at Blue Apple Catering, looks at how catering operations can reduce their carbon footprint by targeting energy efficiency in their day-to-day processes.

Taking care of our environment is a serious business, and where contract catering is concerned there are many elements of focus that can help operators, and therefore the customers they serve, to make a positive impact. The reduction of energy consumption is a key factor, and by focusing on driving efficiencies in this area it is possible to both improve carbon footprints and reduce energy costs without compromising on the quality of the offering.

Catering kitchens are busy places that inherently require a great deal of energy to operate effectively. The preparation, cooking, serving and storing of food alone draws on a near constant supply of gas, electricity and oil, and that is before we look at elements such as cleaning, lighting, ventilation and wastage.

“Nobody is expecting a return to

the dark ages, but a tightening up of processes could have a significant

impact on energy use in areas that may have slipped from the forefront of caterers’ minds.”

Of course, nobody is expecting a return to the dark ages – where rudimentary tools were used before the daily ‘catch’ was thrown directly into the coals of the fire – but a tightening up of processes, and a tweak here and there could have a significant impact on energy use in areas that may have slipped from the forefront of caterers’ minds.

The total energy consumption in the UK‘s catering industry is estimated to be around 20,600,000,000 kWh per year — that’s enough to power 4.5m UK homes every day – therefore an improvement on this number should be well within grasp.

There are many areas where efficiencies can be achieved, and taking the time to go back to basics and to adopt a common sense approach can often pay dividends.

Food preparation For convenience in the kitchen a large number of appliances are available to make food prep just that little bit easier. Whilst blenders, dehydrators and electric whisks are useful, as chefs it can be a lot more rewarding to reconnect with the basics and to save a little energy in the process. Those knife skills honed over the years can be put to good use in chopping and slicing wherever possible, for example.

Of course, there will be many occasions where appliances will be necessary in busy kitchen environments, this


is unavoidable, so where making capital purchases for a catering operation it is advisable to look into the energy efficiency ratings of the equipment you intend to buy. Bear in mind that many options that carry a higher initial purchase price can deliver a far faster return on investment over the lifespan of the appliance through energy savings, so it is worthwhile looking at the bigger picture and undertaking some research.

Cleaning Cleaning is of course an essential element of everyday life in the kitchen, but little things such as filling the dishwater to capacity before turning it on can help a lot. Half loads still use the same amount of energy and water and the chances are you’ll have to do another half load later. Set it to economy mode and at the same time keep an eye on how you use the taps in your kitchen too. Do you leave them running when you could turn them off? It is literally water and money down the drain.

Storage Refrigerators, although they have massively improved in terms of efficiency in recent years, are still one of the major contributors to energy consumption in professional kitchens. This is largely because they are always switched on to maintain the correct temperatures for food storage. However, there are steps you can take to reduce energy usage.

One simple solution is called EndoCube, a simple device that sits over the thermostat sensor of commercial refrigeration units. The EndoCube reduces the number of instances where the refrigeration cycle is activated. In most fridges and freezers, the thermostat uses a sensor to measures the temperature of the air, rather than the contents. However, air can change its temperature far more quickly than food or liquid, meaning the refrigeration unit triggers its cooling cycle, expending more energy, even when it may be that the contents of the fridge are still cold, or frozen in the case of a freezer.

This is more common in refrigerated display cabinets, where there is a constant flow of air as they are either open to the surroundings or have repeatedly opened doors. The purpose of the EndoCube is to fit over the thermostat sensor and to mimic the temperature of the food. This means that the refrigeration unit only activates the cooling cycle when it is actually necessary, resulting in a reduction in cycles of as much as 85%.

Finally, ensure your fridge is maintained according to its instructions. Only by operating at optimal efficiency will it help to contribute to tangible savings to your energy consumption.

Wastage Reducing food wastage and making the best use of

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