Climate change on the menu – CO2-labelled burgers

Max Hamburgarrestauranger (Max) is a nationwide hamburger restaurant chain in Sweden that began in 1968. It is the second largest hamburger chain in Sweden and had 67 restaurants in 2008.

Max has a long history of working to reduce its environmental im-pacts and the newest innovations are carbon labelling and carbon com-pensation. Max was the first restaurant chain in the world to calculate the carbon emissions of the entire product range. This was done with the help of a non-profit organisation specialised in sustainable development, The Natural Step.

Calculating the emissions was easier than in lunchtime res-taurants with changing menus would have been since the options remains the same from day to day. Max shared the carbon emission information with their customers by clearly labelling carbon emissions for the various products on their menu boards.

The purpose of this action was to inspire customers to choose climate smart alternatives on the menu and activate them to reflect on the climate impact of food in general. This is important since customers in hamburger restaurants are not those most deeply committed to environmental issues.

The total carbon footprint for all of the Max locations was estimated to be approximately 27,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Around 70 per cent of the total emissions are produced by the production of beef. The company compensates their carbon emissions by planting trees in Africa.

This translated into approximately 89,000 trees planted each year, equivalent to an area the size of 890 football pitches. Using trees as a carbon offset method, they provided their customers understandable in-formation about what carbon equivalents means in practice.

The company also produced calculations on home cooked meals, and several common Swedish family meals were analysed to provide a base reference for the climatic impact of Max’s products.

The result was that meals cooked at home produce around the same quantity of carbon emis-sions as traditional Max hamburger meals.

Besides the climate action the company has made several other environmental achievements:

  • All restaurants are powered by 100 percent wind energy
  • All new restaurants are equipped with low-energy LED lighting instead of neon lighting
  • All company vehicles are environmentally friendly
  • Max has opened the world’s first bike-in restaurant
  • All restaurants recycle cardboard and electric equipment
  • Only eco-certified fish is served
  • All employees receive training from the Max Environment School

The impacts of the climate actions have been evaluated and results are as follows:

  • There was a 15% relative increase in sales of climate smart alternatives from the menu
  • Opinions about Max being “very committed about the environment” rose from 3% to 11% (Swedish population) and 5% to 15% (Max customers).
  • Max gained a lot of publicity which had high PR-value: A number of awards and prizes where collected, 131 articles were written by journalists, and there were around 80 invitations to give high level speeches at food or sustainability events.
  • The market position improved and a food preference survey showed that the amount of consumers considering Max as “first choice in fast food increased from 18% in 2007 to 21% in 2008 (which is higher than McDonalds). (It is not clear whether the climate action is the only reasons for the increase).

More information
Max and climate action
Carbon labelling of the entire menu (in Swedish): klimatdeklaration.aspx

Oct. 29, 2011
Norræna ráðherranefndin „Kolefnisvottaðir hamborgarar - Svíþjóð“, Náttú Oct. 29, 2011 URL: [Skoðað:Dec. 2, 2023]
Efni má nota eða vitna í samkvæmt almennum venjum sé heimilda getið með slóð eða fullri tilvitnun hér að ofan.