Winterhalter has just become the first foodservice equipment manufacturer to attain the Carbon Footprint label. But what does it really mean — and why should chain operators care? FEJ reports.
As a way of demonstrating that they listen to their customers, manufacturers will often insist that the inspiration for a new product or service has come from a specific customer request or demand. But in the case of Winterhalter’s 18-month journey towards achieving Carbon Trust certification, it really does have its clients to thank for acting as the spark that set everything off.
The accreditation it has gained is supported by the development of a new tool allowing buyers to calculate the lifetime carbon footprint and expected energy costs of all 34 warewasher models that Winterhalter sells in the UK. And, according to managing director Stephen Kinkead, it can all be traced back to two separate conversations that took place within a short timeframe of each other.
“One conversation was with one of our large national accounts and the other was with some consultants when we were over at our HQ in Germany,” he explains. “One of the consultants asked Germany the question of whether it was possible to have an actual carbon footprint — a number they can put against a certain machine and a certain job. It all stemmed from there.”
Winterhalter spoke to a few different organisations about the way in which it could get the carbon footprint of its equipment authenticated and ended up in dialogue with the Carbon Trust, the group set up to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy.
In qualifying the carbon footprint of a single machine, the Carbon Trust uses a wide range of criteria that extends from inception, through to operation, and then disposal. Manufacturing, transport, warehousing, distribution and energy consumption are all taken into account. “There were a lot of challenges in compiling the data, some of which I am fully aware of and some of which went on behind the scenes between marketing and other departments,” says Kinkead.
“Obviously we had to collect the data from Germany. We have three manufacturing plants in Germany and in Switzerland, so there are inter-factory material movements and we have had to capture all of that. There is no smoke in this, the data is absolutely factual.”
Using the calculator, buyers can effectively ratify all the variables to suit their business based on things such as hours of operation, days per use and number of racks. The calculator was being used by at least two major chain accounts in the run-up to its official launch last month and Kinkead says the results have already served up one very interesting trend: “Under normal usage, well over 90% of the carbon footprint is associated with energy in use, highlighting the importance of energy efficiency.”
The marked difference between the running costs of a Winterhalter energy machine versus a standard machine has even led one chain it works with to completely redesign its back-of-house areas to accommodate the greener kit.
The running costs of dishwashers have generally always been available from manufacturers, but until now Winterhalter says that such figures haven’t been independently certified.
“The problem is you’ve got one manufacturer saying one thing and there is no set criteria [to benchmark against]. I think the terminology that has been used is ‘greenwash’, so what we have done is sat down with the Carbon Trust so that it’s not just a manufacturer saying, ‘look at us, we are wonderful’. It is all verified.”
Whether it is a financial director or an operations director, they want to see cost in use — not just the ticket price”
Winterhalter might be the first mover on this, but the certification will surely only gain true credibility once more manufacturers are on board. Only then will operators be able to compare machines from different brands.
Kinkead accepts this point and insists he would be delighted to see others follow its lead. “I would imagine that as other manufacturers go through the same process — and I hope they do — buyers will actually be able to use the calculator to see like-for-like and create a comparison situation. Somebody has got to lead the way, but we would relish other manufacturers stepping up to join us. Really and truly that’s the only way you will get to see a true benchmark.”
But what if rival manufacturers emerge with more favourable carbon footprint figures? “There is that possibility, but we’d be surprised if they came up with a superior footprint,” he says. “This is all about giving the choice to the end-user. This is transparent.”
Putting more power into the hands of operators can only be a good thing. “We have spoken to a lot of our national and end-user accounts, who have been pushing us to do what we have done. I think that when you look at the sustainability of restaurants and chains, this is what the industry is looking for. Whether it is a financial director or an operations director, they want to see cost in use — not just the ticket price.”
Winterhalter has thrown down the gauntlet. It is now up to the rest of the industry to decide whether they are willing to step up to the mark.
Carbon calculator: How does it work?
The calculator will allow operators to compare the carbon footprint and running costs of different Winterhalter models. For example, a Winterhalter PT-L ClimatePlus passthrough warewasher, operating 14 hours a day and processing 50 racks per day, will produce 3,666 kgCO2e per annum, or 36,660 kgCO2e over a typical 10-year lifespan, according to
Comment: The Carbon Trust
Dominic Burbridge, associate director of the Carbon Trust, insists Winterhalter’s Carbon Footprint label is a significant development for foodservice operators wanting to demonstrate their green credentials.
He said: “This is a big step forward for any foodservice business that wants to know and show its impact on the environment. Companies understand better than ever before that when purchasing equipment, they need to take into account the total life cost, including its energy efficiency, which allows them to make meaningful comparisons as to the real value of their investment.
“Winterhalter’s initiative in obtaining certification and developing a whole life tool will also be a big help to foodservice operators that want to reduce their own carbon footprint, as they can take action based on the warewasher figures from the calculator.”