Wahaca has become the first restaurant chain in the UK to be certified as a CarbonNeutral company.
Since opening its first restaurant in Covent Garden in 2007, the group has sought to be a climate leader in the industry, challenging itself to ensure that each site has as low an environmental impact as possible.
The group, which currently has 23 locations, has reduced the average total energy consumption of newer sites (those established after 2013) by 36%.
Further to this, it has regularly assessed the efficiency of older locations, and by upgrading systems and appliances has decreased the average energy consumption of older sites by 15%.
Following its investments in “far-reaching” energy-saving initiatives, the chain has been certified as having a net zero carbon footprint.
“We have always looked to continually improve our sustainability in our sites construction and operations, completing SKA retail environmental assessments for every new restaurant,” stated the firm.
“We have introduced measures such as utilising the heat energy created by fridges and freezers to heat the restaurants’ hot water, installing demand-driven ventilation systems and motion sensor lighting, and installing flow controllers in all plumbing. Further to this, we have regularly re-assessed existing systems and appliances in all locations, making upgrades where beneficial.”
To supplement these initiatives, the company says it has gone one step further to reduce all of its emissions to net zero. Using renewable energy instruments for the energy used in its restaurants and head office, and carbon credits for its remaining emissions including business travel, Wahaca has achieved a net zero carbon footprint in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol.
Notably, it is supporting the Improved Mexican Cookstove project, donating funds which make efficient cookstoves affordable to low-income households in some of the poorest rural states in Mexico.
In addition to its in-restaurant initiatives, Wahaca has extended its green remit further with a sustainable approach to waste management and ingredient sourcing. Where it has control of the waste collection contract, it seeks to appoint the most sustainable contractors, while all food waste from its restaurants is converted into biogas and liquid fertiliser.
With regard to sourcing, it has teamed up with Riverford Organic, which grows poblano peppers, a mild chilli pepper originating from Puebla, Mexico, and tomatillos, also known as Mexican husk tomatoes, exclusively for Wahaca on its farms located around Britain. It has also been working with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) on sustainable fish sourcing for the last eight years and is also currently investigating local herb growing schemes.