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Mission Zero Foodprint

The main goal of Mission Zero Foodprint was to develop and renew the business and products of small restaurant and food service companies to become more resource-oriented and carbon-neutral, and to strengthen cooperation and environmentally-friendly image of these companies.

  • Implementation date10/1/2019 - 12/31/2021
  • FunderEAKR 2014-2020
  • Research programmeService Business and Circular Economy
  • Project typeKansallinen TKI
  • ThemesDigitalisation and information management in society, Pedagogy and cocreation, Entrepreneurship
  • Project managerAnne Turunen

At the moment, food causes about 16% of Finnish greenhouse gas emissions. However, according to Sitra, only one third of consumers are trying to minimize the environmental impact of their diets, and the same amount does not. At the same time, only about 18% say they are trying to choose a climate-friendly meal in the restaurant. There are over 10,000 restaurants and food service companies in Finland and the Finns eat almost 900 million meals outside their home every year (Natural Resources Institute Finland LUKE 2015 statistics). The demand for restaurant meals has also been growing steadily. Product ranges are growing and new, highly specialized food service companies are being set up.

Taking into account the entire food chain from primary production to the restaurant customer's plate, it is not only about culinary delights but also a significant CO2 factor. A carbon footprint tells about a product or service how much greenhouse gas it generates during a product's life cycle. For example, LUKE estimates that the average carbon footprint of a lunch is about 1 kg of CO2.

It is challenging to accurately assess the carbon footprint. The overall carbon footprint is affected by the energy consumption of the company, the raw materials used, and for example the food waste. According to Motiva, process efficiency in restaurants can save up to 60% of energy. According to MaRa, the reduction in energy costs improves the profitability of restaurants and this shows also in the companies’ financial result. The food waste has been calculated to be approximately 15-17 kg per person / year in restaurants (Hartikainen et al. 2013a). According to LUKE, about one-fifth of edible food in the restaurant and catering sector in Finland ends up in bio-waste.

Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Forum Virium, as innovation actors in the region, want to enhance the development of the restaurant and food service sector in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area in a sustainable manner, and through the project enable the involvement of even the small companies in the common development path. The project will bring together a wide range of restaurant and food service companies, developers and stakeholders in the region to co-develop the entire production process of these companies. Utilizing the new digital solutions and service designed models developed in the project in a commercially viable manner is part of the development process. This, on the other hand, strengthens the energy and resource efficiency of the target group companies and, at the same time, strengthens their more commercially viable business image.

The results of the project will be achieved by:

  1. Creating a resource-oriented and carbon-neutral operating model for small and medium sized restaurant and food service companies through the co-development activities of these companies together with experts, developers and major companies in the field.
  2. The model also includes the exploitation and development of smart digital solutions. The metrics and indicators produced in this way can guide the business choices towards carbon neutrality and resource efficiency. The decisions involve e.g. raw material purchases, energy solutions or, for example, choices of ingredients.
  3. Enhancing the environmentally-friendly image of companies will strengthen their competitive edge. The target group's emerging carbon neutrality, energy efficiency, and resource smartness are also highlighted through visual elements in consumer services, and thus also indirectly influence consumer choices.
  4. Strengthening the international network of different parties and target group companies, in order to acquire the latest knowledge and expertise in the field, to disseminate information and created results, and to develop new forms of cooperation, will be part of the project activities.

The long-term goal of the project is to scale up the operating model built in the project to dozens of companies, also outside the project area, to change the processes of the restaurant and food service companies into more carbon neutral, as well as to achieve measured energy savings. At the same time, the goal is also to indirectly influence consumers' awareness of the carbon neutrality and environmental friendliness of the target group companies, and thereby influence in their choices and purchasing decisions.

The tools and operating model developed within the project provide competitive advantages for resource-wise restaurants and strengthen the transformation of these companies towards the circular economy.

The project supports well the Specific Objective 3.1 of the Structural Funds Program, which emphasizes, among other things, the resource efficiency of SMEs' activities and products, for example through the development of production processes. The Structural Funds Program also highlights the added value of networking. One of the ideas behind this project was enabling the small businesses to participate in such a co-development process with other organizations, the results of which they would not necessarily be able to achieve alone.

The project also supports the Strategy for Smart Specialization of Uusimaa region, especially through increasing resource and energy efficiency and supporting the carbon neutrality goals (Urban Cleantech). At the same time, the project supports the development of business operations with the created data collection and analysis methods, through which the changes in operations and decision-making are enhanced. The increasing use of this data becomes ever more important competitive edge for the companies.

Similarly, the project supports the Carbon Neutral Helsinki 2035 strategy from the energy efficiency perspective, as well as the carbon neutrality goals 2030 of the cities of Espoo and Vantaa.

The project also supports the Baltic Sea Strategy, which highlights the goals of business growth, as well as the prosperity and well-being of the region through means such as digitalisation and smart solutions.


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