Kitchen energy debate ‘vital’ for operators making equipment decisions

The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) insists it is vital to keep the debate around energy usage in commercial kitchens alive following the recent scrutiny placed on the environmental impact of microwaves.

Data released by the Microwave Technologies Association (MTA) this week showed that microwaves remain one of the most efficient ways of cooking when compared to other traditional methods. Tests it conducted concluded that a microwave oven used four times less electrical energy than a fan-assisted electric oven to cook the same product.

Its research was designed to put some context to an earlier study from the University of Manchester that had claimed microwaves “could be as bad for the environment as millions of cars”. The report took into account the manufacture, use and end-of-life waste management of microwaves, but it did not benchmark them against other forms of cooking, much to the frustration of the industry.

CESA continues to play a major role in raising awareness of energy usage in professional kitchens and driving regulatory standards within the manufacturer community.

Responding to the discussion that ensued around microwaves, CESA director Keith Warren said it was important to recognise that there are two main issues at play – the functionality and use of the appliance and the embedded carbon in the electricity generating networks.

“The latter is being addressed by the energy suppliers under EU legislation that will reduce the carbon in the energy generating processes. This will be though the removal of gas and coal fired power stations and the resulting increase in the ratio of renewable and nuclear power,” he explained.

“The energy debate in commercial kitchens is vital and the development of the Cut Cost & Carbon Calculator model by DEFRA a few years ago highlighted the issue and increased its profile. We must all keep the debate and discussion live to increase the awareness of operators to take account of the cost of energy and the resultant carbon emissions, while giving them the freedom of using the appliance of their choice.”

The Cut Costs and Carbon Calculator is a business tool that helps to manage the energy costs, carbon footprint and environmental impact of an operator’s catering operations.

The programme uses a site’s data and puts it through a sophisticated spreadsheet to work out the energy use, taking account of a wide range of parameters, including the equipment, menu and hours of operation.

It was developed after research found that the hospitality industry’s failure to take a lifecycle approach to equipment selection and inefficient use of equipment wastes more than £250 million a year, equivalent to three pence for every meal served in the UK.

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