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Sustainable Public Procurement of School Catering Services

One specific area of focus in the Smart City Master Plan was to achieve low carbon school catering service: in their most recent catering tender, Turin (Italy) introduced several measures and included various criteria into their current school catering contract aiming to reduce the associated carbon footprint. These included energy efficient appliances bought for schools, the utilisation of mains tap water, the use of low environmental impact transport and a significant reduction in packaging and waste. Bidders were encouraged to favour low environmental impact packaging, including reusable, refillable or biodegradable products. One requirement is for contractors to shift from using plastic to reusable dishes which will result in an estimated reduction of 157 tonnes/year of plastic waste due to the number of meals served annually in Turin’s schools. Furthermore, a life-cycle assessment approach was taken to measure the carbon footprint of five of the most commonly consumed food products (potatoes, carrots, apples, pears and peaches). In these five supply chains, the production processes accounted for between 50% and 75% of the total carbon footprint, revealing the significance of agricultural practices. In fact, during the school year 2013/2014 for these five products only, the requirement to provide food from integrated and organic production resulted in a reduction of 66.1 t CO2 equivalent (approximately -26% of the carbon footprint of the whole supply chain of these five products) compared with providing the same amount of food from conventional agricultural systems. The transportation of these five foods, from the farm gate to the table, accounted for between 25% and 50% of the carbon footprint and, interestingly, emissions from the site of production to the city hubs were in all five cases less than 10% of the carbon footprint. On the other hand, urban transportation was found to range from 20% to 40% of the carbon footprint. As for reusable dishwares and tablewares in primary and secondary schools, as already was for the case of pre-compulsory schools, only reusable crockery (plates, cutlery and glasses) are being used. The plates and glasses are made of material that can be used several times (properly certified for contact with food) and the cutlery of stainless steel. In addition, the napkins used by the children during the meal are made of recycled paper completely non-toxic and Ecolabel branded. Management of separate collection of waste material had to be provided at each production or distribution unit, beyond mandated waste management regulations and a procedure had to be put in place so that, where appropriate, waste food could be redistributed to consumption as part of social projects in the city. Additional criteria were used to lessen other sustainability impacts associated with the catering contract, such as requiring the use of ecological cleaning products and awarding points for bidders offering a wider range of organic or fair trade products than were specifically requested. Period of implementation started with a trial 2013- 2016 but has been renovated.