Restaurant group develops carbon emissions calculator

An Oregon, U.S.A.-based seafood and sushi restaurant group has started an initiative to calculate and publish the carbon emissions caused by its products – and has committed to buying carbon offsets to compensate for those emissions, the company announced last week.

The Sustainable Restaurant Group’s carbon calculator appears to be the first in the industry to focus on seafood sustainability. Other efforts have calculated a restaurant’s carbon footprint, but those haven’t been so consumer-focused and haven’t addressed seafood specifically.

The group’s new website is replete with information to educate consumers about the carbon emissions associated with each ingredient, including where the fish is found, how it’s caught and raise and how it’s transported. The product’s carbon footprint is shown alongside industry standards.

The calculator also factors in fuel used by the fishing boats, relying on species-specific statistics generated by researchers who have calculated the greenhouse gas emissions per ton of fish caught.

“At a time when the food industry has one of the largest carbon footprints, we now have a greater responsibility to make a difference,” Kristofor Lofgren, founder and CEO of the group, said in statement.

In 2008, Lofgren launched the Sustainable Restaurant Group, which now has two concepts – Bamboo Sushi and QuickFish Poke Bar – in six locations Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado. Ten more locations are in the works for the next two years, including in Seattle, Washington and San Francisco, California.

Lofgren hopes the carbon calculator will set a new standard for the industry. Other restaurants seeking to calculate their carbon footprint can easily replicate it.

To develop the calculator, the restaurant group hired Blue Star Integrative Studio to audit their supply chain and operational practices. Blue Star gathered insights and data from suppliers, employees and the restaurant group’s leadership.

The restaurant group is offsetting its products’ emissions by making annual donations to the Ocean Foundation’s Seagrass Grow project. This year, the group supported the planting of 300 acres. Every donated dollar buys 0.2 acres of seagrass, and offsets 1.3 tons of carbon.

Seagrass helps keep oceans and coastlines healthy by providing food and habitat for juvenile fish, protecting shorelines from erosion and filtering pollution from the water.

The meadows also act as a major carbon sink, capturing two to four times more carbon than terrestrial tropical rainforests. Even though seagrass occupies just 0.1 percent of the seafloor, it’s responsible for 11 percent of the organic carbon stored in the ocean.


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