Soil Association Certification and the Carbon Trust announce new partnership to develop a sustainable catering standard

As well as food provenance and supply chain, covered by the existing Catering Mark award, the new standard looks at waste, energy and water use. This will enable businesses to be recognised for exemplary practice in environmental sustainability and help them reach ‘Good’ or higher on DEFRA’s Balanced Scorecard.

This new scheme is the first and only to provide a ‘one stop shop’ verification scheme that aligns across all areas of DEFRA’s Balanced Scorecard. The standard will be launched as a pilot and there is a call for caterers to express their interest.

Dr Peter Bonfield, who originally developed the Balanced Scorecard, commented: “This partnership is an exciting opportunity to inspire caterers to improve their environmental performance. The new award will mean that the Catering Mark can deliver a verification scheme that demonstrates equivalence across all areas of the DEFRA Balanced Scorecard for public procurement, including food provenance, socio-economic responsibility, and service”

Hundreds of catering operations around the UK have been recognised by the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark award, which provides endorsement that food providers are taking steps to improve the food they serve, using more fresh, sustainable ingredients which are free from harmful additives and better for animal welfare.

Martin Sawyer, Chief Executive of Soil Association Certification said; “We’re close to reaching a remarkable 2 million Catering Mark meals served daily in the UK –  wouldn’t it be great if those meals could also be provided with the justifiable claim they are using less energy, are more efficient and have  less impact on our environment. I’m sure that many businesses will be interested in our pilot project, and in turn can see the benefit, both socially and economically, of this partnership.”

Darran Messem, Managing Director of Certification at the Carbon Trust said; “Over 8 billion meals a year are served by caterers in the UK across 260,000 sites. Even small improvements in the environmental impact of each meal served can add up to a huge total. Fortunately in many cases large improvements are possible. For example Carbon Trust analysis suggests that many caterers could achieve reductions of around 30% in energy costs, equivalent to an annual saving of £250 million. Catering as a sector has the opportunity and the capability to drive significant positive change in the health and sustainability of our diets.”

As well as helping caterers meet procurement requirements, the scheme can help with companies’ CSR requirements, improve efficiency in energy and water saving, enhance the company’s reputation and provide a comprehensive assurance of quality and integrity of catering operations. 

To register your interest in this scheme contact:



Editors Notes:


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The Food for Life Catering Mark has been cited by NHS England and the Department for Education as a way to improve hospital and school food, and by Government’s Plan for Public Procurement as a way to guarantee a good score across the Plan’s Balanced Scorecard. The Catering Mark also verifies compliance with the Government Buying Standards’ requirements on nutrition in hospitals, and incorporates the School Food Standards.

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low-carbon world;
  • measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services;
  • helps develop and deploy low-carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power.

For further information visit

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment. Today the Soil Association is the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. Its Chief Executive is Helen Browning, and Chair of Trustees is Dennis Overton.

Soil Association Certification is a wholly owned subsidiary with an independent board chaired by Nick Buckland, which certifies over 70% of all organic products sold in the UK. Certifying organic food and farming since 1973, and more recently, organic textiles, health and beauty products, the team has built up extensive practical experience and provides unrivalled support before, during and after certification.  It also audits other schemes within catering and forestry, including the Food for Life Catering Mark, and the FSC and PEFC forestry standards internationally, delivering assurances of quality and provenance that industry and consumers can trust. To find out more visit