How Nando’s is ensuring offsetting isn’t miss-stepping

By Henry Unwin, Head of Sustainability, Nando’s

Whilst the last year has brought plenty of challenges it has also shown us what we are able to achieve in the face of a crisis. To me this brings a glimmer hope in our ability to tackle the most pressing crisis of our generation, the climate crisis.

Before COVID-19 struck both The World Economic Forum and the United Nations had Infectious Diseases and Climate Change as the two biggest global risks. In fact, in their 2020 Global Risks Report the World Economic Forum put the impact of Climate Change well above that of infectious diseases. Even when it came to their 2021 Global Risks Report, released in the middle of a global pandemic, Climate Action Failure remained the number one most likely risk to our global economic stability!

With COP26 looming it is worrying that failure to act on climate change remains such a high risk. However, I am incredibly proud that despite the challenges thrown at our industry we can share this most recent move in our commitment to tackling the climate crisis. And I am particularly proud that we announced it on the day that our restaurants in England opened for eat in. This year, Nando’s will become carbon neutral across our scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as part of our roadmap to be Net Zero by 2030. A bold new commitment for us in this incredibly important year for climate action. The projects we have chosen to balance our footprint will also support livelihoods in our homeland of Southern Africa. For all the details please check out our website:

This announcement builds on the remarkable journey we have been on over the past few years. Since 2015 we have reduced the carbon footprint of a Nando’s meal by 40%, including a 97% reduction in our direct emissions. This time last year we became the first restaurant group in the world with an approved Science Based Target and a signatory of the Better Chicken Commitment. Joining the dots, not ticking the boxes on these important and interrelated issues.

In summary this means that:

  • We have reduced the carbon footprint of a Nando’s meal by 40% since 2015
  • We have an industry leading Science Based Target to continue to reduce the carbon footprint of a Nando’s meal by a further 50% by 2030
  • We have committed to be Net Zero by 2030
  • We will become carbon neutral this year, through verified and accredited offset partnerships in our homeland of Southern Africa

This has been an extremely interesting project to work on, for me offsetting has always had its controversies and will continue to do so. There is a huge amount of debate around the use of offsets and a lot of this is very justified. For me there are some basic rules that we applied at the very beginning of our thinking and they feel important for anyone looking into carbon neutrality. If you cannot answer “yes” to every one of these questions, then you should not be offsetting your carbon footprint:

  • Do you have a credible carbon reduction programme and target in place, preferably Science Based?
  • Are you actively reducing your carbon footprint, and do you have data to back this up?
  • Can you guarantee the time and resource invested in an offsetting programme are not redirecting resource away from carbon reduction?
  • Are you offsetting your full scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?
  • Are you using a credible and verified carbon offset projects (e.g. Gold Standard of Verra/VCS)?

If, and only if, you are achieving the above then offsetting can form an important part of your approach to tackling the climate crisis.

For Nando’s it was not only about hitting all the above criteria, but also ensuring that we are driving social impact and supporting our ambition to help change lives in the countries of our heritage. The projects we have chosen, The Kariba Forest and the expansion of Wonderbag in South Africa are incredibly exciting and impactful projects to be partnering with. Whilst these are connected to the countries of our heritage and our brand, we also want to engage our staff closer to home and that’s why we have partnered with Trees for Cities to plant 16,000 trees in the UK, one for each member of our staff.

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