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Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Compliance and Catering Office has partnered with the Swedish-based startup Klimato to promote a more conscious approach to meal preparation and selection among staff and students. SU is the first African institution to pilot Klimato’s carbon footprint software. The project is one of many initiatives that SUNCOM, SU’s Business Office, is implementing as part of its long-term strategy to lower carbon emissions and encourage sustainable practices within its operations.

Food production is responsible for a quarter of the world’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) total emissions1 because of various farming practices, food processing, fisheries, and crop production. As a result, our food consumption directly impacts climate change because of the carbon emissions induced by the production of different ingredients.

Klimato’s software calculates the carbon footprint of meals and ingredients via a country-specific database. Therefore, using this tool, SU can help mitigate climate change by educating students and catering service providers to rethink the environmental impact of the combination of ingredients in the meals served on our campus. As the first institution to pilot the software in Africa, SU’s Compliance and Catering Office hopes to supply valuable contributions to the food and ingredients database that will encourage the adoption of climate-conscious meal preparation and selections within the campus community.

“To showcase our commitment to sustainability, we prioritise initiatives to preserve the environment, promote social responsibility, and ensure economic viability for future generations. Through our combined efforts within the SUNCOM division we strive to reduce our carbon footprint, implement renewable energy solutions, and minimise waste generation,” says Bennie Malan, Head of SUNCOM’s Compliance and Catering Office.

Earlier this year, SUNCOM reported that 806 693 meals were booked online from January 2023 to December 2023. Such a high number of meals being prepared reaffirms the need for a more sustainable approach to food preparation and selection, with the goal of lowering the environmental impact.

According to Malan, the Klimato tool is currently in its testing phase on campus in three residence preparation kitchens. Once implemented across campus, it aims to:

·Demonstrate to students the environmental impact of various menu options and empower them to make more sustainable choices;

·Improve meal recipes to produce lower Carbon emissions;

·Localise data to add to the Klimato South African database;

·Encourage the widespread adoption of this or similar software; and

·Enable a reduction in the carbon emissions produced by the catering service providers appointed by the Compliance and Catering Office.

Malan and his team are working closely with SU’s appointed catering service providers during the test phase to utilise this tool and consciously adapt the ingredients in their meal options.

Through impactful collaborations like these SU continues to demonstrate the impact of innovation in society. Leading by example, the University strives to achieve a net zero campus environment by 2050.

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