Photo: Arto Wiikari

Students are interested in the CO2 footprint of their school lunch

FoodTech Startup Miils (Rategia Oy) was selected to pilot a project called: Visualizing and Carbon Footprint from School Lunch, by the City of Helsinki. The pilot took place at a Finnish Comprehensive school, Jakomäen Peruskoulu, and It focused on finding out what was the impact of showing the CO2 footprint on the school’s lunch menu and whether it had an impact on which food was chosen and how much food was thrown away. During the pilot the carbon footprint was calculated (estimates) for every main meal served for lunch at the schools canteen. In Finland students are served a free warm lunch every day at school. Students get to choose from two buffet options: vegetarian and meat/fish choice. Lunch meal choices are planned to fit almost all of the students’ diets, if possible. Survey conducted by Miils shows the most common reasons to follow specific diets were religious, health or environmental reasons amongst the students.  

The pilot took place in Autumn 2019 with 200 students from grades 5th to 9th. Students were shown an estimation of the CO2 (kg CO2 / day) of the daily lunch options. The carbon footprint was visualized with a CO2 footprint icon and with a calculated number on the school menu. At the beginning of the pilot students were briefed about the CO2 emissions in a general and topic was further discussed during classes.

Miils provided the data source of the recipe CO2 estimations and food waste data came from the schools catering service provider, Service Center of Helsinki. These data sets were used to calculate the carbon footprint for all the main meals and to compare the waste reports from the previous chapter’s same menu items were served. All variables effecting the results were not taken into consideration (e.g. season has an impact on student’s food consumption behavioral).

The results showed that by showing the carbon footprint on the menu it had some impact on the lunch food choice. One third of the students said they had based their food decision based on the CO2 number during the pilot. When asked whether students would like to see CO2 footprint on their school menu also in the future, 93% answered yes. What came as a surprise during the pilot, was how unknown the CO2 footprint marking was amongst the students.  

Food production emissions are becoming more interest to consumers. The request for transparency of food comes directly from the consumer. “It's interesting to see, when blockchain technology evolves in the future, how we can follow the entire life cycle of food and get better picture of the total emissions”, says Jutta Weigh of the pilot company Miils.

Miils is a FoodTech company that guides consumers to make better food choices at the point-of-purchase. Miils patent pending technology guides consumers towards healthier and more environmentally friendly food choices.

For inquires please contact: Jutta Weigh