We are delighted to to be the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified as a CarbonNeutral company – here’s how:
Since opening our very first restaurant in Covent Garden in 2007, we have sought to be a climate leader in the industry, challenging ourselves to ensure that each site has as low an environmental impact as possible. Our 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, we have regularly assessed the efficiency of older locations, and by upgrading systems and appliances have decreased the average energy consumption of older sites by 15%. For example, adjusting a heater battery at the Bluewater Wahaca led to a 76% reduction in gas use. In 2016, through offsetting the remaining unavoidable energy usage by investing in far-reaching energy-saving initiatives, Wahaca 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. 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, we have gone one step further to reduce all of our emissions to net zero. Using renewable energy instruments for the energy used in Wahaca restaurants and head office, and carbon credits for our remaining emissions including business travel, we’ve achieved a net zero carbon footprint in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol. Notably, we are 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 (particularly around Oaxaca). In addition to reducing fuel use by as much as 60%, the new stoves reduce exposure to harmful indoor air pollution – the fourth worst risk factor for disease in developing countries, particularly for women and children who spend more time around the stoves. The high-quality, affordable plancha wood stoves have been specifically designed to be locally appropriate for the communities in Mexico and replace inefficient, traditional, 3-stone fires. Moreover, the fire chamber is enclosed, minimising a burn risk for children, and reducing the price spent per family on fuel by saving 2,800kg of fire wood per year.
In addition to our in-restaurant initiatives, we extend our green remit further with a sustainable approach to waste management and ingredient sourcing. Where we have control of the waste collection contract, we appoint the most sustainable contractors, whilst all food waste from our restaurants are converted into biogas and liquid fertiliser. With regard to sourcing, at Wahaca Brixton, we’ve teamed up with neighbours Brixton Brewery to produce the perfect beer to go with the menu offerings. The Lupulo pale ale is exclusive to Wahaca Brixton and, originating just a five minute walk from the restaurant, helps limit carbon emissions that would be generated from importing. Likewise, we also teamed up with Riverford Organic, who grow poblano peppers, a mild chilli pepper originating from Puebla, Mexico, and tomatillos, also known as Mexican husk tomatoes, exclusively for us on their farms located around Britain. We have furthermore been working with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) on sustainable fish sourcing since 2008 and are also currently investigating local herb growing schemes.