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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does food have to do with climate change?
    More than you'd think! Eating is the most significant interaction all of us have with the environment. However, the food system for which we depend on for three meals a day is also one of the highest GHG emitting sectors globally, where up to 37% of total GHG emissions are attributable to the food system. Between agriculture, forestry and land use alone, food is responsible for over a quarter of global emissions generated through human action, ranging from livestock management, chemical fertilizers, deforestation, degradation of croplands and forests (IPCC, 2022). These actions not only contribute to GHG emissions, but it also undermines nature's ability to lock down carbon where it belongs - in the soil. Climate change caused by excess carbon in the atmosphere poses an enormous risk to agriculture and global food security as crops and livestock are threatened by severe natural disasters and the effects of global warming.
  • Why are you taking this on?
    Asia, currently home to 60% of the world’s population, is projected to hit the 5 billion mark by 2035. In the next 30 years, the population is expected to grow by over 600 million, and the demand for food will rise alongside. To meet new food demands, the food system must also expand and will release ever more carbon emissions as a result. If the world and its leaders are serious about reducing carbon emissions, Asia is the place to heavily invest in. Coming from hospitality backgrounds ourselves, we know that implementing best practices within our operations only contributes to a small part of the solution, and that the real impact occurs throughout the supply chain. In 2018, Peggy signed @grassrootspantry on to @zerofoodprint's Carbon Neutrality Program with Joel at the helm to navigate GP's sustainability efforts. Through months of data aggregating and supplier list tracing, they were then able to ascertain through LCA scientists what this small single-standing restaurant's estimated annual GHG emissions were. The next natural step for Grassroots was to offset their emissions through a 3% Carbon Pledge at the end of every bill which went towards funding regenerative farms in California. This allowed them to address some of the external costs not often factored into a restaurant's P&L. Since then GP won numerous awards for leading best practices in both sustainable sourcing and responsible restaurant management. Four years later, we know time is ripe to exponentially drive funding towards the protection and conservation of Asia’s soil - specifically through the means of implementing holistic, regenerative agriculture. ZFPA is a practical way for the hospitality industry across Asia to become part of the solution.
  • What is the 1% pledge?
    Our model's very simple. Food and beverage businesses pledge 1% of every customers' bill towards the ZFPA Restore fund. So that could be 1% of your morning coffee, 1% of your char siu fan - basically, 1% of food and beverage purchases will go to fund farmers that want to transition away from conventional farming to regenerative forms of agriculture - which in turn will draw down carbon from the atmosphere, restore soil health and help to combat global warming. Just a few dollars, in aggregate, can create acres and acres of healthy soil and shift us from the extractive conventional agricultural system to a renewable food system. It’s basically an easy way to be part of the solution.
  • Is this a type of tax?
    No, because a tax is mandatory, and this is voluntary. Restaurants opt in and diners can opt out, so it’s more like crowd-funding for grants to farmers, who then use their land to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. (Bonus: better food for all of us.) The program represents an opportunity for each of us to vote with our dollars through a direct action that improves our food and climate. Meanwhile, every day, people are paying actual taxes that subsidize the kind of extractive farming that strips topsoil, reduces the nutrient content of produce and makes us more vulnerable to drought, flood, and fire.
  • Why 1%?
    Zero Foodprint HQ in the United States has been analyzing restaurants’ carbon footprints since 2015, and findings suggest that adding a charge of 1% towards carbon farming would accomplish as much environmental benefit as offsetting the estimated impact from the restaurant’s operation. But 1% makes a lot of sense on a global scale as well: According to the scientists and climate experts who analyzed 80 climate solutions for Project Drawdown (2017), implementing drawdown projects around the world would cost between USD 22.5-28.4 trillion by 2050. Which when based on 2019's global GDP trajectory (USD87.6 trillion), is about 0.91-1.2% of the global economy; which we have rounded to 1% as a general guide.
  • How to calculate the 1% pledge?
    To calculate these payments, restaurants will remit the actual 1% collected each month by the 7th day the following month. ZFPA businesses may choose to generate the 1% pledge as they see fit, in accordance with local laws: they may increase their prices, create a customer surcharge, or not change their pricing/payment structure at all!
  • Are there other ways to partcipate?
    Absolutely, there is no one size fits all approach for how we work with our partners and how your business can work on climate action with us. Besides the 1% pledge you can: 1: Collaborate with us on a time bound campaign. For instance, pledge an amount during Earth Month or pledge proceeds from a pop-up. 2: Dedicate a product or menu item. Whether it’s a popular menu item or a signature product, you can assign a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of the proceeds to support climate action. 3. Donate. Funding regenerative agriculture and helping solve one of the biggest crises of our time does not have to be complicated! From time to time we receive generous contributions from fellow supporters.
  • So how does ZFPA make change happen?
    Let’s take the rise of renewable energy as a model. A utility company might add, say, $5 per month to improve the grid. Individuals can opt out, but over 100 cities, counties, states and countries are using this framework (known as Community Choice Aggregation) to go from 0% to 100% renewable energy. Zero Foodprint is establishing a similar framework for food and farming, by organizing a community of restaurants, diners and farmers to shift agricultural practices toward healthy soil, on many acres of farmland. You could think of this as improving the grid of food—after all, a good farm is basically a living solar panel—and we need to come together to create a renewable food system.
  • Where do the funds go?
    It’s not just for any Tom, Dick or Harry. The grants go directly to farmers and those practicing regeneratively across the Asia region. There are still conditions which they must meet and our advisory board must vet before the grants are distributed. Once distributed, each project will be measured so we can pass this info onto you, who can then shout it from your rooftops, websites, social media or all of them, wherever you think is best!
  • What is in it for me?
    ZFPA restaurant partners join a worldwide restaurant network dedicated to bringing regenerative agriculture (the most promising climate solution) to scale. As part of the ZFPA family, you will be investing your business in climate conscious efforts, tracking such progress through user-friendly technology, and not to forget, doing your part to save the world. As environmental issues become a growing global concern, ZFPA members will be actively engaged in forward-thinking practices that will not only lead to healthier soil and more resilient crops, but also more nutritious and delicious meals. 88% of consumers demand that brands address climate change and employees prefer companies that align with their values. Give the people what they want. Happy restaurant/business, happy people, happy planet.
  • What is an LCA?
    If you want to go beyond the 1% pledge and help meet your city’s Net Zero pledges, this program is for you! A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a very popular, but vastly complex analysis for reporting potential environmental loads and resources consumed in each step of a product or service supply chain. For an industry sector (food) that’s responsible for more than ⅓ of the world’s GHG emissions, we have to figure out how to measure, reduce, and mitigate our responsible emissions effectively.
  • Who are you partnering with to make this happen?
    We at ZFPA are NOT scientists, so we have partnered with some pretty brainy peeps at Foodsteps and Hong Kong City University School of Energy and Environment. UK based software platform and social enterprise Foodsteps identifies and tracks the environmental footprint of food. With their help, we're on our way to shifting food and beverage businesses towards lowering their carbon emissions. However, this would not be effective without Dr. Shauhrat Chopra and his team from City University. Their Life Cycle Assessment research on local and Asian ingredients will make carbon labelling in Hong Kong science-backed and fully vetted. Currently, much of the LCA data is focused on western ingredients. What we are doing with these working partnerships is starting to build out the LCA database for Asian ingredients and working across sectors, we can leverage on each others’ experiences, knowledge, and data.
  • How long does it take?
    For an existing working restaurant business, it will take approximately 8-12 months to gather data, measure your existing business’ carbon emissions, implement the recommendations for reducing emissions and develop menu carbon labelling.
  • Show me an example of how this works?
    Sure! Let’s take a restaurant as an example. With our partners we will dive into your electricity, water and gas use, your waste breakdown, ingredient sourcing and deliveries and everything in between that can be attributed to your carbon footprint. For example, let’s take the char siu fan dish on your menu. By looking at and evaluating the origin of each ingredient, we will be able to measure the carbon emissions associated with the dish. And by origin we don’t just mean the wholesaler, but all scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions related to the ingredient. So how was the pork farmed and fed (where did the feed come from), how the rice needed in the dish was grown, harvested and transported and much more. Don’t worry you won’t have to calculate this yourself, with the help of Foodsteps, you can input the ingredients information into their platform and a carbon label for your specific char siu fan will roll out. Where there is missing data on the Foodsteps platform, Dr. Shau and his team will come to the rescue and do the research for you. The goal here really is to first measure your emissions, reduce where possible, so in the end you are only offsetting unavoidable emissions through regenerative agricultural projects.
  • What are scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?
    Life Cycle Assessments are broken down by the source of emissions. On-site activities are counted toward Scopes 1 and 2 (ex: burning wood in an oven, operating your hood). Scope 3 emissions are not controlled by your operations on-site, they are created in the supply chain that feeds into your operation, and this includes all of the emissions needed to produce your ingredients before they arrive in your kitchen.
  • What are climate offset projects?
    Climate offset projects range from supporting the use of renewable energy, realizing energy efficiency measures or reducing methane emissions. This can then be achieved through technological advances, the filtering of greenhouse gases from production facilities, but also through Nature-Based Solutions like afforestation, regenerative agriculture and other suitable measures in agriculture.
  • What are Nature-Based Solutions?
    Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”. Evidence increasingly suggests that NbS could really contribute to minimizing climate change and its effects. In fact, research shows that nature-based solutions and the broader food, agriculture and land use sector could contribute up to 30% of the climate mitigation needed by 2050 to meet the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global warming.
  • How does one offset carbon via regenerative agriculture?
    Offsets are generated via two ways: (1) Emissions Reduction or (2) Carbon Removal. Soil carbon sequestration, enabled through the implementation of regenerative agriculture principles (such as compost application, cover cropping, silvopasture, managed grazing and no-till farming), is a form of carbon removal that turns bad atmospheric carbon into good soil carbon by storing it deep into the ground where it belongs. With that said, there are two broad types of carbon offsets: (1) Renewable Energy projects and (2) Land Use projects. Land use projects are much more difficult to assess due to how contextual the application can be. Currently land use projects such as regenerative agriculture are still in their early innings of data collection and modeling worldwide, and a standardized methodology is still yet to be developed. But what we do know is that regardless of the amount of CO2 that can be sequestered via carbon farming, the co-benefits of implementing more regenerative farming practices drastically outweighs not doing anything at all i.e. healthier more nutritious foods, soil becomes more resilient to climate impacts such as drought and floods, and farmers are then also happier and healthier without the need for chemical inputs on their farms.
  • What standard does ZFPA's projects meet?
    We can’t claim that a single set of universal standards and frameworks are currently already in place, because working with soil is mega contextual. However, on top of setting standards that echoes with ZFP’s existing methodologies, ZFPA also keeps up to date with the latest developments and publications on FAO’s Global Soil Partnership Technical Manuals and the 4p1000 initiative, while we continue to learn from and develop meaningful partnerships with regional technical experts such as Homeland Green, The Mushroom Initiative and The Soil Science Society of China .


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