A collaboration with the organization Zero Foodprint means that all of Mikkeller’s 11 Danish restaurants and 2 California restaurants will now be carbon neutral. This is done by simply donating one percent of the revenue to climate beneficial farming and carbon offsets.
Every time you eat a meal, it results in CO2-emissions equivalent to burning one to two liters of petrol. It makes no difference whether you eat at home or out. But it doesn't have to be this way. Or rather: it shouldn't be this way. This is the opinion of Mikkeller founder and CEO Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. When he teamed up with American chef and climate activist Anthony Myint to open the restaurant Vesterbro Chinese Food in Copenhagen last year, he became aware of a relatively simple recipe to how his restaurants can address their CO2 footprint.
“There is absolutely no excuse not to do this, to not take responsibility, and I hope by being frontrunners on the Copenhagen food scene, we can help spread the word about this great initiative," says Mikkel Borg Bjergsø.
Anthony Myint is one of the initiators behind the organization Zero Foodprint, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping restaurants and diners become part of the solution to climate change. Apart from running his own climate friendly restaurants, he provides information and frameworks for restaurateurs around the world to do their part by both improving operations and supporting environmental projects ranging from renewable farming to renewable energy. Mikkeller’s restaurants are among the first to be included in the programme.
(Source: Zero Food Print)
A simple method
The method to make a restaurant carbon neutral is relatively simple. Each time a guest pays for a meal, one percent is added to the bill. However, the guest is fully entitled to refuse to pay the extra one percent, and in such situations the restaurant is committed to covering the extra cost. Zero Foodprint channels the money toward the implementation of agricultural projects that convert atmospheric carbon to healthy soil. This process, known as carbon farming or regenerative agriculture was recently cited by the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a crucial strategy for how changes to food production can play a major role in addressing the climate crisis.
There are many ways to which a restaurant can become more environmentally-friendly, but according to Anthony Myint, donating just one percent of the revenue – which is then sent directly to help farmers implement climate-friendly projects – is the most meaningful way to go.
“In the USA, where I come from, less than 2% of farmland employs organic practices. The dominance of extractive farming practices is the result of market conditions that make it almost impossible for the majority of farmers to implement best practices. Many farmers want to switch, and the public would also benefit from more nutritious and delicious food and a suite of ecosystem services resulting from sustainable farming. Our approach is to close the economic loop and fund these practice”, explains Anthony Myint.
No change of concepts
Apart from supporting select CO2-reducing projects with one percent of their turnover, restaurants included in the project commit to finding as environmentally-friendly food suppliers as possible; examining the restaurants' work processes to be able to make the restaurants as energy-efficient as possible.
For Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the collaboration with Zero Foodprint is a welcome opportunity to do as much as possible in as short a time as possible, and in a very concrete way.
“We have found a way to make our restaurants climate friendly without having to reinvent our concepts completely, and we believe that the best thing we can do to improve the environment is to help research along the way and invest in projects which are of great and direct importance”, he says.
Mikkeller's collaboration with Zero Foodprint begun with the restaurant Vesterbro Chinese Food – a Copenhagen cousin of Mission Chinese Food (San Francisco and New York) founded by Anthony Myint. Myint’s first restaurant was a food truck, but he nonetheless became aware early on in the process just how much waste (and climate problems as a whole) comes from serving food. In 2014 he founded Zero Foodprint, which currently counts over 30 restaurants worldwide as members, 13 of them being Mikkeller establishment. The Mikkeller restaurant transformation is a first step in making Mikkeller a sustainable business. In the future the bars and the production of beer will follow.
- Carbon footprint left by an average restaurant (source: Zerofoodprint.org):
- Ingredients – 64%
- Power, water, etc. – 29%
- Waste, transport, etc. – 17%
- A guest who eats meat leaves an average global carbon footprint of 8.7 kilograms, the equivalent of burning two liters of gasoline. A similar figure is found for a homemade meal, with a result of 8 kilograms.
- CO2-reducing agriculture (source: The Carbon Cycle Institute)
- A thin layer of compost activates the soil
- Perennial plant species (certain types of grass, among others) which absorb CO2 from the air and store it in the soil are planted.
- Managing the grazing patterns of cattle and sheep encourages grass growth while optimizing fertilization.
- Agriculture can play a similar role to planting trees—healthy soil is comprised of a high level of organic matter and biomass.
- A study from 2017 found that if all agriculture changed their production methods, as much carbon could be stored in the soil as all the world's cars, busses, ships and planes combined emit.
ABOUT ZERO FOODPRINT
- Was founded in 2014 by restaurateur Anthony Myint and chief editor of the food magazine Lucky Peach, Chris Ying.
- Work with restaurants to make smart, non-intrusive operational improvements and help them reduce their carbon footprint and offer more environmentally friendly menus.
- Help restaurants invest in climate beneficial farming practices. Restoring soil health is a primary solution to global warming.
- Support environmental efforts around the world to offset their remaining emissions. This includes food-related climate mitigation projects and carbon farming efforts.
- Anthony Myint very recently won The Basque Culinary World Prize 2019, an international award created to celebrate the way gastronomy can transform our society, by recognizing chefs who have made an impact ‘beyond the kitchen’.
MIKKELLER RESTAURANTS collaborating with Zero Foodprint:
- Vesterbro Chinese Food
- Øl & Brød
- Ramen to Biiru (Nørrebro, Vesterbro, Østerbro, Frederiksberg)
- La Neta (Nørrebro og Vesterbro)
- The restaurant part of Mikkeller Bar Los Angeles
- The restaurant part of Mikkeller Bar San Francisco
Read more about Zero Foodprint here