Even with the best efforts of the caterer, the choice for low-impact food always comes down to the customer. So let's help them make better decisions!
Utrecht University and the caterer Eurest have made important steps in reducing the environmental impact of catering at the campus, but purchasing low-impact food in the canteens is up to the customer in the end. Assessing which food has a lower impact is not trivial; sometimes animal products can be less impactful than vegan ones, for example. This project aims to aid customers in their everyday food choices by allowing them to compare the canteen's food options based on their estimated environmental impact. We imagine an environmental impact label that considers carbon footprint, land use, water use, chemical use, for example. The product's score in each of the categories would be plotted on a spider-web graph to allow the customer to compare one product to another - the same way as we currently do with nutrition contents. The scores will be set up in three steps. First, we identify the ingredients used in collaboration with Eurest. Then the impact each of these ingredients has will be assessed based on scientific studies. Last, an overall estimate will be done on the scale of low-medium-high. A pilot study could be done in one of the canteens in the first period of the new academic year (September to October), in one of the canteens. We expect that people will opt for more sustainable options, which Eurest would see more profit from low-impact ingredient, helping them to drive down the environmental impact of their operations. Can you help us conduct a pilot study?
Scope of the project
For now, we are thinking on the scale of a pilot study, which would involve one canteen on the campus. Later on, if the project turns out successful, it could be expanded to all the canteens.
At most €200 to produce the labels that would be placed next to food products.
How do you envisage dealing with COVID-19 restrictions?
We expect the pilot study to be conducted in the first period of the new academic year. If the predictions are to be trusted, the canteens would be open again and have many customers (staff members and students) purchasing their products again. This is exactly what we hope for, and we see no particular collision between COVID-19 regulations and the labels.
- Academic staff members
- Non-academic staff members
Expected date to be completed
Team Leader Information
Name: Gergo Suto
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Geosciences
Number of members of this group: 1