Earlier this month, BOCA kicked off its second carbon emissions calculation project in partnership with Dubai-based carbon management consultancy firm elementsix.
As part of the project, elementsix will analyse the restaurant’s operations and production lifecycle in its location in DIFC to assess greenhouse gas emissions under rigorous global accreditation standards. This will include the calculation of Scope 1 (direct emissions), Scope 2 (indirect emissions that result from the purchase of energy) and Scope 3 (all other indirect emissions across the entire value chain).
“With the help and expertise of elementsix, we produced BOCA’s first carbon emissions report last year, and it was an eye-opener” says Omar Shihab, Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer of BOCA. “What we found out about the impact of our practices through the report was instrumental in making informed and critical decisions when it comes to sourcing, waste management and overall consumption of energy and power within the restaurant.” He adds.
BOCA’s 2021 Carbon Emissions report, openly available through BOCA’s a la carte menus available in the restaurant and online through www.boca.ae confirmed what the team suspected and knew already about the high carbon impact of the use of imported and animal-based produce. It also highlighted some low hanging opportunities to lower impact through addressing certain categories of waste and energy consumption overall.
“Ongoing calculation of their emissions shows how BOCA and Omar are committed to the fight against climate change,” explains Amer Arafat, Managing Partner at elementsix.
“We look forward to working again with the team to understand what was the impact of the changes that they consciously made throughout 2022” adds Amer.
EXPECTATIONS FROM THE 2022 CARBON EMISSIONS REPORT
2022 saw business growth for BOCA which will naturally drive the restaurant’s impact. What the team hopes, however, is to be able to report abatement figures based on the use of solar power through acquiring international renewable energy certificates from DEWA’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park to meet 100% of its electricity consumption. Other factors that may have contributed to the avoidance of higher emissions throughout the year by the restaurant include:
- Sourcing decisions of ingredients in menus.
- Responsible disposal of used cooking oil with the help of Neutral Fuels.
- Repurposing glass bottles for use as new extra virgin olive oil bottles for our friends at Thuraya Olive Oil Estate in Sicily, Italy.
- Used oyster shells collection.
- Calculating and offsetting carbon emissions for group and corporate guests at BOCA.
- A year-long upkeep and maintenance drive of all existing equipment.
Looking ahead, BOCA looks at doubling down on its waste management efforts through addressing one of the highest categories of waste by impact; organic waste.
“We want our guests to know that we are focused on serving them a delicious meal in a refined environment while maintaining the highest standards of waste management, responsible sourcing and low impact business practices. All they need to know is that the environmental impact of dining with us will be one of the lowest in the country,” explains Omar.
A CRITICAL MOMENT FOR HOSPITALITY: A CALL FOR A RESTAURANT PLATFORM FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Understanding our carbon emissions calculations and how they are measured over time gives Omar and his team at BOCA the perspective they need to prioritize the restaurant’s sustainability efforts. However, there is still work to be done for our nation: the hosting of COP28 and the commitment of our country’s leadership to effective climate action labelling 2023 as the ‘Year of Sustainability in the UAE.”
Add to this the exponential increase in competition in the hospitality industry in our region and the global call to rethink and reimagine the way restaurants are run. This was recently reinforced by the announcement of the dissolution of the NOMA restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, which described the restaurant industry in its current state as ‘unsustainable.”
We desperately need a different way of looking at restaurant operations, and there is no more critical moment than now to reach a common understanding and a common goal that we can all work toward in the industry. Not just in emissions, but in responsible sourcing, waste management, employee well-being and our restaurant community. We need a platform where restaurants that are trying new ways of doing things for their people, their operations and for the planet can start measuring and showcasing their efforts.
A local and global alliance created through collective action to bring such a platform to the UAE is in the works and will be announced by Omar and a local team of sustainability professionals very soon.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE TEAM AT BOCA
The team at BOCA has set its sights high for the next five years. With the help of international consultants, a plan for local, regional, and global expansion is currently being developed. “We are building a next-generation hospitality company built on the pillars of sustainability,” Omar adds. New locations, experiences, pop-ups and concepts are in the works for sites in the UAE and throughout the Gulf region.