Compass Group adds sustainability software to the menu

[Editor's note: This is the first installment of a new column called Tech@Work. Each month, GreenBiz Senior Writer Heather Clancy will explore how companies are using technology to advance their sustainability goals and improve competitive advantage.]

Compass Group is spicing up its menu with a software application that helps chefs and kitchen managers decrease waste disposal and reduce their energy and water consumption.

The $12 billion global food services management company uses a web-based tool called the Carbon FOODprint, which was developed by FirstCarbon Solutions and piloted in 12 locations over the past year before a general rollout in late March.  

Its ingredients include thousands of data points from deep within the food industry supply chain that gauge the impact of menu choices, appliances, procurement policies, packaging and disposal methods on an operation's carbon footprint.

By comparing their own metrics against those benchmarks, chefs and managers can get a sense of how their business practices measure up against other operations.

What's more, they will receive customized menus of 185 strategic choices they can make to reduce their own environmental impact and, by extension, operations costs. Those suggestions could include changing up their menus, such as reducing the beef portions, or rethinking how kitchen equipment is used by perhaps turning off ovens, processors and other appliances when not in use.

The tool certainly isn't mandatory, but it is unique among food service management companies. Early adopters include enterprise software developer SAP, as well as Auburn University and Green Mountain College. Compass manages approximately 9,900 locations globally across corporations, higher education and healthcare facilities. It believes Carbon FOODprint will differentiate its services among organizations that have made sustainability a priority.

"The rollout is really focusing on the top, those businesses and clients that have those values," said Marc Zammit, vice president of sustainability initiatives for the Charlotte, N.C., company. "There's an opportunity for us to work together to get there."

Next page: Customized dashboards