Environmental Game Changers

As a leading food service business, we focus on where we can have the biggest positive impact on the global food system and the environment.

Food Waste

According to the UN, each year, an estimated one-third of all food produced ends up going to waste. That is equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes, worth around US$1 trillion, ending up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices. Our food waste strategy is focused on prevention, inspiring others to waste less, and recovery of surplus food.


We are cutting waste in our restaurants by improving how we order and store food, making use of every bit of an ingredient in the kitchen, and repurposing food into new dishes where possible. We challenge our teams to plan, forecast and purchase effectively to prevent wastage.


In 2017, our US business created a dedicated day of action, Stop Food Waste Day™. Our aim was to increase awareness of the crisis and empower employees and consumers to reduce waste in both professional and home kitchens. It has now become an annual, global event for us, with 38 Compass markets and over 10,000 units participating in 2019. 


We work with online food redistribution charities, as well as local charities and community groups, to help our sites donate surplus food.

Single-Use Plastics 

We recognise the industry-wide issue of single-use plastic and are taking steps to reduce its use in our operations. We are working closely with suppliers to redesign packaging, and encourage clients and consumers to rethink their use of disposable plastic items. This is helping to ensure that fewer singleuse plastics are being used, replacing them with reusable alternatives. Where plastic is still used, we encourage the adoption of plastics that can be easily recycled. 

Plant-Forward Meals

In January 2019, an EAT-Lancet report provided the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system, and which actions can support and speed up food system transformation. We have since partnered with EAT to explore ways to help transform our global food system. Eating less meat is generally agreed to be better for our bodies and for the planet. We are offering our consumers more plant-based choices and meat alternatives. We are serving more vegan options, and our chefs are creating delicious recipes based around vegetables and legumes all around the world. 

Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions 

We recognise the role we have to play in limiting our impact on the environment. Alongside reducing food waste, and increasing plant-based meals across our business, in February 2019, we committed to set a ‘Science Based Target’ to reduce the carbon footprint of our direct operations, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Building on work done in previous years, we will be setting these targets and taking actions to reduce our impact across the Group over the coming years. 

Global GHG Emissions for the period 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019 Unit 2018-
2019 Current reporting year 
Comparison year
Combustion of fuel & operation of facilities (Scope 1) Tonnes (t) CO2e 174,627 129,516

Electricity, heat, steam and cooling purchased for own use

(Scope 2 – location based)

tCO2 45,875 8,095
Total Scope 1+2 tCO2

220,502 137,611
Emissions intensity per £M revenue tCO2e/£M

9.1 6.3

Compass Group's disclosure in accordance with the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic and Directors's reports) Regulations 2013 is stated in the table above.

This year, we conducted a thorough review of our Scope 1 and 2 carbonfootprint following our commitment to set best-in-class science-based carbon reduction targets aligned to the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) criteria. Over 2019, we increased the number of countries reporting on their emissions from 20 to 25 and expanded the number and type of sites reporting greenhouse gas emissions to more closely reflect our operations. Our 2019 data includes all head and regional offices as well as warehouses, central processing kitchens and laundries within the reporting countries. These sites were previously out of scope and typically have higher carbon emissions than offices (the only site type previously reported) meaning that our emissions from 2018 and 2019 are not on a like-for-like basis.

In 2019, we increased the scope and changed the data collection and estimation methodology of reporting.

Case studies

Innovating to build a sustainable world

The global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Assuming this happens, it is estimated that the equivalent of almost three planets will be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles (UN 2016)1. Recognising this challenge, our global teams are continually identifying, piloting and rolling out new technologies and ways of working to ‘do more with less’.

Our business in China for example, is using the Magic Cooker, a cooking technology which enables high quality meals to be cooked using pre-prepared ingredients with a reduced cooking time. This innovation provides great tasting and healthy food, using 80% less oil than traditional wok methods. It also helps to reduce our energy use by up to 34%, thereby reducing our carbon footprint. Through its sealed design, the cooker also improves safety controls, by reducing the risk of foreign bodies entering the cooking process.

As the Magic Cooker does not require water to be added, our team is already saving an impressive 39,000 litres of water a year.


Helping customers meet their sustainability goals with ‘Carbon Foodprint’

Healthy vegetarian and vegan cooking and eating with seasonal organic vegetables. Clean food concept. Pot with beetroot and spoon on table background with ingredients, top view, flat lay

Carbon Foodprint is Compass USA’s online environmental dashboard, enabling us to provide clients with costeffective solutions to lower the environmental impact of food service. Our Carbon Foodprint toolkit tracks data needed to reduce energy, water, and waste in the kitchen, while identifying opportunities for chefs to re-engineer their menus to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

A monthly report communicates results to the client, associates, and guests. Users can help their clients track progress towards Science-Based Targets and other reporting (such as CDP). In 2019, Carbon Foodprint helped users to reduce enough red meat to avoid over 52,000 lbs. of CO2e, and reduce their water use by 41,000 gallons.

“Sustainability is integral to the culture of Compass and we want to help our clients excel in all areas,” explains Julia Jordan, Director of Sustainability, Compass USA. “The Carbon Foodprint programme makes it easy to monitor and measure the impact of clients’ sustainability programmes and several clients have won awards for their efforts.”

Our award-winning ‘Single-Use Plastics Guide’

In the UK, our ‘Single-Use Plastics Guide’ makes it easy for sites to tackle single-use plastics commonly used in food service. Regularly updated, the Guide is already on its fourth edition, and was awarded ‘Best Waste Prevention Project Award (Food)’ at Footprint’s waste2zero Awards 2019.

In the past year alone, the Guide has helped to remove 30 million plastic cups and 29 million plastic cutlery items from the UK business. We also run conferences with clients across the UK to share best practice.

“We have decided to focus on educating both our people and clients on what steps can be taken to make a difference,” explains Celena Fernandez, Head of Environment at Compass Group UK & Ireland. “It’s really important we don’t make knee jerk decisions that result in alternatives being introduced that are more damaging to the environment. We are really proud of what we have achieved so far and remain focused on continuing to address this issue.”

Closing the loop on food waste

Globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year. To address this challenge, a systemic approach needs to be implemented to improve our use of resources along the whole food chain. Our teams around the world are working with clients to explore new ways to reduce food waste. In addition, we work to ‘close the loop’ by converting food waste into compost, which can then be used to support future food cultivation.

Our team in South Africa is working with Kearsney College to implement a Bokashi composting system for the leftover food from our kitchens. The idea began in 2015, and this year Earth Probiotics containers have been installed for our teams to collect food waste. Food waste is left to compost for 12 weeks, before being used by the school’s gardener, who works with our team to maintain the herb garden and the school’s gardens. By supporting local cultivation, we can optimise the use of herbs. Often only a sprig or two of garden herbs are used for special dishes and if we buy an entire bunch of herbs from our supplier, the majority can potentially be wasted. Using local produce from our gardens allows us to pick only what is needed and when.

We were delighted that this year, for the first time our kitchen will be using produce from the garden for Kearsney College’s Annual Environment Day dinner. Moving forward, we hope that we will be able to expand this initiative to grow vegetables on a larger scale for use in our kitchens.


p32-icon-1 final to reduce the amount of food waste that goes unsold/uneaten


p32-icon-2 final consumers to waste less (through Stop Food Waste Day)


p32-icon-3 final to donate surplus food to people in need, and recycling to divert food waste from landfill

Environmental Policy Statement


In the majority of our locations where we are not directly responsible for the procurement of utilities, equipment, fuel etc, we are working closely with our clients to consider how best to improve the environmental performance of our operations.

We use a web based reporting system which provides a ‘one stop shop’ for countries to report progress against their non-financial KPIs, including environmental performance. The benefits to our business of deploying such a system include improving accuracy of data, and the ability to track our progress against targets.

Data verification - As in previous years, we have engaged our environmental partners Eco Act Ltd, to provide limited verification of our 2018-2019 GHG emissions-related data, calculation and greenhouse assertion, using the relevant requirements of the ISO 14064-3:2006 standard. View our GHG verification statement  here