Mission Chinese Food

Photograph by Alanna Hale

As the first step in the Zero Foodprint certification process, Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco recently participated in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by Origin Climate. The LCA analyzed the greenhouse-gas emissions of Mission Chinese Food’s operations, including ingredient sourcing, food waste, energy use, and deliveries.

The key findings of the LCA are summarized in this document, along with a summary of some recent measures taken to reduce the restaurant’s carbon footprint, including an energy efficiency consultation with the Food Service Technology Center via Zero Foodprint. The full LCA report is available for reference, including an explanation of the methods and the guidelines followed and the factors excluded from the analysis.

 

Findings

  • The restaurant’s annual carbon dioxide–equivalent emissions (its Foodprint) was estimated to be 600 metric tons CO2e, which is equivalent to 105 cars on the road.
  • The restaurant’s total annual emissions are comparable to that of other restaurants studied by Zero Foodprint; on a per meal basis, the Foodprint of eating at Mission Chinese Food is similar to the foodprint of a home-cooked steak dinner.
  • Ingredients constituted the most substantial emissions factor. Ingredients accounted for 468 MT CO2e (78 percent), followed by energy use (84 MT CO2e, 14 percent), waste (24 MT CO2e, 4 percent), and deliveries 24 MT CO2e, 4 percent).
  •  Among the ingredients, beef and lamb were the most significant source of carbon emissions, accounting for 37 percent of the restaurant’s total emissions (224 MT CO2e). Beverages accounted for 16 percent of total emissions (94 MT CO2e). Pork, poultry, and seafood accounted for 10 percent of total emissions (61 MT CO2e). Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices accounted for 5 percent of total emissions (28 MT CO2e). And grains, oils, and other ingredients accounted for 10 percent of total emissions (62 MT CO2e).
  • The restaurant estimates that its operations provide food for about 73,000 customers per year (not including subsequent meals resulting from leftovers—a non-negligible factor given the cultural practice of over-ordering Chinese food).

 

Immediate Actions

Mission Chinese Food took a direct and immediate approach to offsetting the emissions created by beef and lamb by raising the prices of those dishes by 50 cents. The proceeds will be used to purchase carbon offsets through Zero Foodprint for the entire restaurant (an approximate annual cost of $3,500). Additional funds from the surcharge will be applied toward further actions, including those listed in the Potential Actions section.

Mission Chinese Food worked with the Food Service Technology Center (FSTC), a division of The Pacific Gas & Energy Company, to review the equipment and operations of the restaurant which resulted in the following improvements to energy use:

  • The FSTC recommended a pilot program that provided Mission Chinese Food with a complimentary refrigerated prep table (Beverage Air SPE 48-12, approximate retail value of $2500) to replace/retire an inefficient one, using 18kw/hr. The newer model is expected to use 7kw/hr, and save the restaurant approximately $400/year in energy costs.
  • An FSTC consultant replaced a worn washer in a dishwasher pre-rinse sprayer that eliminated a slow drip from the nozzle. If left unattended, the leak would have had an annual impact of 6,000 gallons of wasted water.
  • An FSTC consultant inspected all of the refrigeration condenser units and identified one unit that had been missed in the restaurant’s maintenance rotation and cleaned it, drastically improving performance.
  • An FSTC consultant recommended incorporating cookware with heat sink technology to improve efficiency on the hot line. The restaurant obtained a complimentary beta-version 26” Turbo Wok from the manufacturer, as well as purchasing a 27 quart stock pot and a 39 quart stock pot (commercially available for $160 and $230, respectively). In efficiency tests, those items require ~40% less gas to achieve comparable results to normal cookware. The restaurant experienced notably faster cooking times as well as utilities savings (Note: It was not economically feasible to alter the plumbing/gas lines to specifically monitor these results).

 

Potential actions

  • Replacing an existing fryer with an energy efficiency of approximately 35 percent heat transfer for a newer model with an energy efficiency of approximately 50 percent.
  • Replacing a refrigerator that uses 6kw/hr for a more efficient model rated for 2.5 kw/hr (an exchange that would currently cost $1,200 after PG&E rebates, and would save ~$135/year in energy costs).
  • Future menu changes de-emphasizing red meat.
  • Portion-size control to reduce food waste.
  • Directed clustering of deliveries using a “dedicated delivery food expediter/geography-based dispatcher” model as opposed to the current model of cooking food first and sending drivers out in “mini-clusters.”