CO2 reduction in foodservice operations

Animal agriculture produces 66.11 GT of carbon dioxide emissions annually according to Drawdown research. Due to changes in consumer preferences for healthier meals, this creates an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offering more plant-based meals as an alternative to animal-based meals. McDonald's can reach its ambitious goal to prevent 150 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 replacing just 16.7% of meat-based meals with plant-based.

Open Pilot Proposal


Food waste is undoubtedly a huge problem - at least a third of our food is wasted by consumers. Food waste causes 70.53 GT of green house gas emissions annually. No wonder that foodservice companies like Sodexo have set ambitious goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 34% by 2025, resulting in 109,882 tons CO2 saved.

Sodexo is not alone. McDonald’s, on March 20, 2018 announced an approved, science-based target to cut greenhouse gas emissions and battle climate change, saying it is the first restaurant company to do so.

The company aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by roughly one third, preventing 150 million tonnes from being released into the atmosphere by 2030.

McDonald’s said it would put the greatest emphasis on the largest contributors to its carbon footprint: beef production, restaurant energy usage and sourcing, packaging and waste. Those segments combined account for approximately 64 percent of McDonald’s global emissions, the company said.

In the meantime, animal agriculture produces 66.11 GT of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to Drawdown research. Due to changes in consumer preferences for healthier meals, this creates an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offering more plant-based meals as an alternative to animal-based meals.

According to different studies (1, 2, 3), the carbon footprint of beef cattle in Canada, The United States, The European Union, Australia and Brazil ranges between 8 and 22 kg CO2e per kg of live weight (LW) depending on the type of farming system, the location, the year, the type of management practices, the allocation, and the boundaries of the study.

According to the Financial Times, McDonald’s buys about 2 percent of the beef produced globally every year, making it one of the world’s biggest purchasers.  According to the FAO, annual world bovine consumption is about 60 billion kg.

In the meantime, shifting preferences for healthier foods have created robust demand for healthy, plant-based products.


McDonald's can reach its ambitious goal by replacing just 16.7% of the meat-based meals it uses with plant-based meals.

Calculations: 150 000 000 000 kg CO2 / (60 000 000 000 kg beef * AVG (8 – 22 kg)) = 16.7%


Develop a range of plant-based protein-rich meals from defatted seeds, such as:

  • Protein chips

  • Protein ramen

  • Protein coatings and breading

  • Protein bakery and dough blends

Defatted seeds facts:

  • Defatted sunflower seeds contain 35% protein by weight, > 26% in beef > 22% in bean/chickpea flour and >20% in up-cycled spent grain flour,

  • Defatted sunflower seeds have 18% fiber by weight, > 2.4% in apple

  • Protein from defatted sunflower seeds costs $1.6/kg, < $4.9 from Soy < $7.8 from Pea

  • The current annual volume of defatted seeds is enough to feed 1.5B people, based on recommended daily consumption of 2000 calories


Historically, defatted seeds have been used in animal feed as a way to utilize the by-products of oilseed crushing plants. Later, with the growth of demand for animal-based products, defatted seeds turned out to be a valuable source of animal feed. But animals are extremely inefficient tools to produce food.

From the initial calories in defatted seeds, humans get only 17% of that number of calories when we feed defatted seeds to poultry and then consume poultry. We get 9% of that total if we feed defatted seeds to pigs and then consume pork, and 3% (3!) of that total when we feed defatted seeds to cows, and then consume beef.

PLANETARIANS invented a method to re-purpose defatted seeds for human consumption, and filed a patent for the process and ingredients. PLANETARIANS’ patent application prohibits competitors from using defatted seeds in any food product for human consumption.

PLANETARIANS’ manufacturing process was tested and optimized at the University of Minnesota. The resulting product was certified for nutritional content by Medallion Labs.

Market tests of chips from up-cycled defatted sunflower seeds (with 3x more protein, 2x more fiber and 3x less fat per serving than typical potato chips) demonstrated 69% average month-to-month growth, totaling $37,000 in revenue during March-May 2018.

Using SunMeal as an ingredient from defatted sunflower seeds allows food manufacturers to turn regular food into superfood. SunMeal is allergen free and non-GMO, unlike soy-based proteins. SunMeal is 5x cheaper than pea protein, and is a good source of fiber.


Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from foodservice operations.


According to Drawdown research, switching to plant-rich diets has the potential to reduce up to 66.11 GT carbon dioxide emissions annually.


Recipes developed using protein-rich plant-based products from defatted sunflower seeds can become a technology platform for developing multiple recipes for use in foodservice, at home and in consumer-packaged products:

  • Protein-rich noodles for soups, ramen, pasta, ravioli-like products

  • High-protein bread, and spreads and toppings for sandwiches, pizza, tacos

  • Protein chips, and dips and sauces

  • Meatless products with more protein than meat

Developed recipes can be protected by PLANETARIANS’ patent-pending applications for ingredients from defatted seeds.


Defatted seeds have a dense texture due to protein and fibrous content, and a dark color.  


  • creates an alternative tool to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in foodservice operations

  • provides access to a new sustainable source of healthy ingredients

  • creates shared value for collaborators and the Earth


Lab tests show that replacing 30% of a product’s ingredients with defatted seeds doubles the protein and fiber content, while keeping costs and texture the same. Replacing 50% of the ingredients with defatted seeds triples the protein and fiber content, but requires additional work to ensure the texture is as desired.

About author: Aleh Manchuliantsau is a food developer at PLANETARIANS. He previously created and sold over 1 million bottles of nutritionally complete meals. Right now, Aleh is working on up-cycling food waste into tasty and healthy snacks. His goal? To feed a growing population without the need to grow more crops.

Aleh Manchuliantsau