Carbon footprint display project for Polytechnique Montreal menus

Food choices have a significant climate impact, which can be unknown to the public. The CIRAIG, commissioned by Polytechnique Montréal, has been tasked with calculating the climate-warming impact of the menus offered by the cafeteria, aiming to enable students to understand the impact of their meals and change their eating habits to reduce it.

The CIRAIG quantified the carbon footprint of around forty meals offered by the Polytechnique Montréal cafeteria. The presentation of the results was carefully designed to raise awareness among customers about the impact of their food choices. Readily available in dining areas, The carbon footprints, calculated in kg equivalent CO2, are displayed as grades on a scale ranging from A* to F. Customers can also scan a QR code to obtain the contribution of each ingredient to the carbon footprint of their meal.The CIRAIG study emphasizes that ingredient production is the main contributor to the carbon footprint of meals. Other stages in the meal life cycle, such as packaging, transportation, or preparation (storage,cooking…), have a relatively small impact. The study’s findings remind us that meat and dairy products are significant CO2 emitters. The carbon footprint of cheese, among others, should not be overlooked. There is a significant difference in impact between vegetarian dishes with and without cheese. Vegetarian and vegan meals should be prioritized overall to limit climate impact.

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