Drive to net-zero and educating one million children about sustainability

Cha Tom Kerridge Torridon Primary School 19

We have been working hard to progress our Climate Action plan, as part of our ongoing commitment to achieve climate net zero by 2030.

Our plan has three key areas of focus; menus & recipe reformulation, education, and food waste – all of which demonstrate our ambition to act as an agent of sustainable change across the education sector.

Menu & Reformulation:

We strive to serve healthy, sustainable menus that prioritise taste, nutrition, and affordability. Working in partnership with UK tech company Foodsteps, we are targeting the reformulation of over 90,000 recipes to accelerate the decarbonisation of the 61m meals we serve across over 2,000 schools, every year.

Our partnership with Foodsteps provides us with in-depth insights of the carbon footprint of thousands of food items, giving our expert culinary and nutrition teams the data points they need to credibly inform the evolution of our menus.

An initial analysis of our Spring/Summer 2024 menu calculated that 43% of the menu within the State Primary School business is defined as “very low” impact, under Foodsteps’ carbon footprinting banding. In our State Secondary School business, 38% of our menu is “very low” impact, using the same methodology

Moving forward, we are committed to utilising a data-driven approach when developing our menus, as we continue to look at how best to reduce the carbon embodied across our menus.


Delivered by our award-winning nutrition team, the Beyond the Chartwells Kitchen programme highlights our ongoing commitment to educating future generations.

In the 2022/2023 academic year, our team educated almost 18,000 pupils on sustainability, through more than 250 sustainability themed workshops. The workshops focus on topics such as Food Waste, Eating Sustainably, and the Flight of the Bumblebee, a session which has been created through our ongoing partnership with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, an organisation which shares our passion for food, sustainability, and education.

Celebrating World Bee Day in May, we raised awareness for the decline in bumblebee populations throughout primary schools and saw a 32% increase in knowledge from the Beyond the Chartwells Kitchen sessions. This kickstarts a yearlong campaign to engage children on the importance of helping the UK’s bees.

With 70% of children worried about the world they will inherit, and 60% thinking climate change is impacting their generation’s mental health (Save the Children, 2022), we aim to educate over one million children on sustainability through workshops and engagement plans by 2030.

Food Waste:

We are committed to tracking food waste and are working towards reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. With 8-10% of global GHG emissions coming from food that is wasted, our approach is to track and target reduction across five different types of food waste – pre-production, post-production, plate waste, retail, and out of date waste.

To support food waste prevention, chefs are constantly innovating, by creating new dishes with minimal waste, using all parts of each natural ingredient where possible. One example is a Zero Waste Cauliflower Macaroni Cheese recipe which uses up the whole cauliflower from stalk to leaves as well as using milk.

This recipe has featured on menus across both Primary and Secondary sectors to support Compass Group’s annual Stop Food Waste Day. During that week, our nutrition team also engaged with over 4,500 students, educating them on the topic with food waste themed workshops, assemblies, and popups.

Charles Brown, Managing Director, Chartwells said: “We fully support the wider commitment of Compass UK & Ireland to achieve climate net zero by 2030 and have been working hard to implement plans that will reduce the carbon footprint of our business. As education caterers, I believe we also bear a further responsibility to educate and set a great example for the leaders of tomorrow – the children our frontline teams proudly serve every day.

“While we are proud about the progress we have made to date, we are poignantly aware of the challenges that lay ahead, as we look to drive sustainable change while also navigating the industry headwinds all operators are facing into.

“This is not something that we can achieve by working on our own. To achieve real change, we need to work alongside our clients, suppliers, the wider industry, as well as other key stakeholders in the education space. We recently launched a sustainability report to stimulate a discussion within the market, and we will continue to act as a vehicle for change within the sector.”