In 2016 we decided to step up our sustainability game and were the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified carbon neutral.
This means that we take lots of steps to reduce our carbon footprint, and then we offset any unavoidable energy usage by purchasing carbon credits to support projects that are close to our hearts. We’re proud to be certified carbon neutral in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol.
We monitor our energy and use state of the art equipment to minimise our environmental impact.
We use the heat energy created by our fridges and freezers to heat the restaurants’ hot water. Our ventilation systems are demand driven. We have motion sensor lighting. Flow controllers in all of our plumbing. We’re not stopping here, we’re always looking for new ways to do more.
ZERO WASTE TO LANDFILL
All of our waste is diverted from landfill with the help of Paper Round. We are proud of our teams for achieving average recycling rates of 86% and we segregate our waste into at least five waste streams to save resources, reduce our impact on the environment and because it’s the right thing to do.
Glass, aluminium, plastic, paper and card are recycled. Food waste is converted into biogas and liquid fertiliser. General waste is incinerated and even that creates renewable electricity. All of our managed waste is treated within the UK and recyclables will stay within the UK and Western Europe.
Thanks to the hard work of our teams we’ve seen some incredible results since 2011.
USE & REUSE
We have been working with Olleco to provide us with cooking oil. The best bit about it is that they take away the used oil and process it into biofuel.
From the period of 2018-2020 alone, this has resulted carbon savings of 586,894 Kgs of carbon or the equivalent of 4,704 average family cars being removed from the roads.
WORK IN PROGRESS
We’re always working away behind the scenes to continue to make improvements.
We are transitioning all of our takeaway packaging to bagasse – it’s made from sugar cane fibre, a waste product from the sugar industry. Not only does this help us avoid the use of trees, it also doesn’t require any plastic lining, this alone has a predicted saving of 16 tons of plastic production and offsetting 45,000 kg of carbon annually.
We’re also working with suppliers and our teams to reduce unnecessary plastics in the supply chain. We love this free resource for hospitality, a great starting point for anyone looking to do the same.
THE WAR ON STRAWS
In 2018, we went to war on plastic straws. We stopped serving single-use plastic straws in all drinks where they are not necessary, unless a customer asks for one. For the very few drinks that do need straws they now come with a 100% biodegradable one. We’re confident that this simple swap can make a huge reduction in our plastic waste, without making your drinks less delicious to sip.
We had been making plans to go straw free for a while, but it was a visit from Mark our co-founder’s 4 year old son that was the final straw. He said he “didn’t want a straw with his orange juice because he didn’t want turtles to choke and die”. We made a vow then to turn Wahaca into a zero plastic straw company.
When we build our restaurants we always try to use as many recycled materials as possible. We have wood clad walls that used to be the Slug and Lettuce floor, and the floor in our Southbank bar used to be the walls in Dishoom. It’s a nice reminder of the past, but also a nice way to reduce our environmental impact when we open up.
We like to test ourselves when we build by completing “SKA Retail” environmental assessments to ensure our restaurants are as sustainable during construction as when they’re up and running. SKA helps us identify where we can reuse materials, specify materials with high recycled content, install energy efficient equipment and ensure that all timber is certified as sustainable. As a result of our efforts, all of our newly built restaurants have been rated with a Gold SKA rating.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
We choose our carbon offsetting projects carefully, so that we’re not only helping the planet, but it’s people too, whilst giving back to the country that’s inspired everything we do at Wahaca.
We support the Improved Mexican Cookstove project, donating funds that make efficient cookstoves for low-income households in some of the poorest rural states in Mexico. The new stoves help reduce fuel use by as much as 58% and reduce exposure for families to harmful indoor air pollution.
We also support Oaxaca Wind, they produce enough electricity to power 700,000 households each year with renewable wind turbine energy! Not only that, but they are award winners for the wider positive impact on their community.