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How Much CO2 Is In A Carrot?

06/19/2015 02:15 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015

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Villaggio is a staff restaurant at Technopark Zurich run by Compass Group. Head chef Daniel Mietusch prepares up to 400 meals a day and has recently begun to plan his menu with Eaternity’s carbon emission calculator, which allows him to compose a dish from the most climate-friendly ingredients. “The time it takes is reasonable,” Mietusch says.

The man standing beside him nods. It’s Manuel Klarmann, the CEO of Eaternity. He and his team have developed Eaternity Cloud, the carbon emission calculator; his organisation also landed a big fish when it gained Compass Group as a customer. Compass operates some 230 group catering venues across Switzerland and is determined to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 per cent by 2020 – no mean feat since the food we consume produces roughly a third of all CO2 emissions. Klarmann laid the foundation for Eaternity in 2008 when he realised that a link between science and practice was missing – what’s the point of all the studies on the carbon footprint of our food choices if the chefs and their guests don’t have a clue about it?

Eaternity employs six staff for a full-time equivalent of 4.5, financed from the annual service fee of CHF 1,300 that Eaternity receives from each participating business. What’s the service? For starters, Klarmann says, “we developed Eaternity Cloud, which helps plan climate-friendly menus.” The service also includes supporting research and monthly reports on the customer’s carbon footprint.

What distinguishes Eaternity Cloud from the traditional methods of computing CO2 emissions? It applies some of the usual parameters such as water use or harvest time, Klarmann says, but it also takes into account various dynamic factors: growth methods, storage time, transport distances, packaging – some 50 parameters per product, all converted to kilograms of CO2 to allow direct comparison.

“We aim to have four more clients of the size of Compass Group within three years,” Klarmann says. Negotiations are ongoing in several European countries. He is convinced that sustainable food can make a huge contribution to climate protection.

“Everybody has to eat at least once a day.”

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