New standard for school catering

Soil Association Certification and Carbon Trust announce new partnership to develop sustainable catering standard

Soil Association Certification is partnering with the Carbon Trust to develop a bespoke sustainable catering standard to complement the Food for Life Catering Mark. As well as food provenance and supply chain, covered by the existing Catering Mark award, the new standard looks at waste, energy and water use. This will enable businesses to be recognised for exemplary practice in environmental sustainability and help them reach ‘Good’ or higher on DEFRA’s Balanced Scorecard. 

The new scheme is the first and only to provide a ‘one stop shop’ verification scheme that aligns across all areas of DEFRA’s Balanced Scorecard. The standard will be launched as a pilot and there is a call for caterers to express their interest.

Dr Peter Bonfield, who originally developed the Balanced Scorecard, commented: “This partnership between Soil Association Certification and the Carbon Trust is an exciting opportunity to inspire businesses and caterers to improve their environmental performance and show a clear commitment to buying fresh, healthy, locally sourced, sustainable food and champion British producers via the Red Tractor scheme. The Food for Life Catering Mark is making it easy to verify a good or excellent score across all areas of the DEFRA balanced scorecard for public procurement, including food production, social and economic value, quality and now resource efficiency too.”

Hundreds of catering operations around the UK have been recognised by the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark award, which provides endorsement that food providers are taking steps to improve the food they serve, using more fresh, sustainable ingredients which are free from harmful additives and better for animal welfare. 

Martin Sawyer, Chief Executive of Soil Association Certification said; “We’re close to reaching a remarkable two million Catering Mark meals served daily in the UK – wouldn’t it be great if those meals could also be provided with the justifiable claim they are using less energy, are more efficient and have  less impact on our environment. I’m sure that many businesses will be interested in our pilot project, and in turn can see the benefit, both socially and economically, of this partnership.” 

Darran Messem, Managing Director of Certification at the Carbon Trust, said; “Over eight billion meals a year are served by caterers in the UK across 260,000 sites. Even small improvements in the environmental impact of each meal served can add up to a huge total. Fortunately in many cases large improvements are possible. For example Carbon Trust analysis suggests that many caterers could achieve reductions of around 30% in energy costs, equivalent to an annual saving of £250 million. Catering as a sector has the opportunity and the capability to drive significant positive change in the health and sustainability of our diets.”    

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