The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has launched a Net Zero Restaurants Initiative at the Net Zero Festival today (1 October).
In advance of the global climate conference COP26 in November, the digital platform offers materials to help restaurants go net zero cost-effectively, with a pilot estimating the cost to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions could be as low as 7.5p per cover.
Freely available here, the sector-specific platform allows operators to calculate their carbon emissions, set targets, get tailored reduction plans and compensate for pre-existing emissions. Businesses can also be certified net zero or have their net zero target date certified.
The initiative has been developed by climate action platform Net Zero Now working with its development partners Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) GB and Pernod Ricard UK, and will be rolled out by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. The two organisations launched the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative over the summer.
Restaurant groups including Wahaca and Hawksmoor took part in the latest pilot scheme, which found that the vast majority of emissions were in the food itself (on average 77%), rather than operations (18.5%) or drinks (4.5%). If a restaurant replaced 10% of its meat use with plant-based options, this was found to potentially save 350 tonnes of carbon per year, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions emitted by 76 cars being driven for a year.
Meanwhile, if a restaurant switched to 100% renewable energy tariffs, they could save nearly 600 tonnes of carbon per year, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 67,000 gallons of petrol; and replacing one quarter of dairy usage with plant-based options could save over 300 tonnes of carbon per year.
Simon Heppner, executive director of Net Zero Now, said: "The pilot programme has shown us that there is a strong demand from operators to make a positive change – and we're able to make it simpler and cost-effective for them to do so.
"The need to reach net zero is common to all sectors but the challenges of getting there are different. As we expand the Net Zero Now model into other sectors, we will support the whole SME economy to become more sustainable."
Juliane Caillouette-Noble, managing director of the SRA, added the initiative offered restaurants "tangible action to serve up meaningful change and enable their customers to use the power of their appetites wisely".