Minimum Environmental Criteria for refreshment services

Minimum Environmental Criteria for refreshment services in the Public Administration water sustainable

Minimum Environmental Criteria

On Tuesday 21 June 2022 the third Webinar was held at the Mi.T.E. aimed at defining the minimum environmental criteria for refreshment services. Document based on future calls for tenders in the Public Administration. An important activity that will provide the public contracting stations with a law that will thus facilitate the drafting of the specifications by making a radical change in the current services offered. A great commitment for economic operators who have to change their current “habits”. All this, however, will have positive implications for the development of their business making it more sustainable. Water is important for the health of people.

The success will make them fall within green contracts thus being able to draw on the resources of the recovery fund.

In detail, the services involved:

  1. Refreshment services through the management of food and beverage vending machines
  2. Refreshment services (bar)
  3. Sandwich preparation and administration services (catering)
  4. The supply, installation and management of “water houses
  5. Assignment of works for the construction of mains water supply points for drinking use in indoor or outdoor environments

The working tables

We anticipate that the coordinator of the group, given the previous episodes, immediately urged the participants to intervene in a proactive and non-polemical way. During the reading of the shared document, everyone is reminded of the reasons that led the Ministry to intervene in this sector. In addition, the close correlation between the environment, health and training is emphasized, a triangulation that is expressed with the implementation of the C.A.M.

Our President, Claude Bontorin, collected the contents of the various interlocutors and intervened, moralizing and recalling a sense of responsibility among those present.  In addition, the initial conservative attitude of some parties has now been reduced by asking the coordinator of the table for further study. But the time is no longer there and it is necessary to act immediately and the C.A.M. offer the opportunity. Sustainable

The main topic of the discussion was the drinks on tap as the only alternative distribution system to those packaged, in whatever material they are made.

Specific organic products or products without “added” ingredients.  The most obvious example are added sugars, dyes, preservatives and various sweeteners. It is to be deepened according to some and to be avoided according to others. Certainly what is emerging is to avoid or eliminate “added” ingredients if not necessary. This eliminates complete supply chains with great savings in CO2 Eq emissions.

Many interests are at stake and too many interlocutors have forgotten the aims of the Ministry towards the good existence of these minimum environmental criteria. It is not a question of penalizing or favoring someone but of working together for a common good that is our planet. The damage we have generated, even unconsciously, is there for all to see and it is we ourselves who must remedy it.  restaurants

To think of declining this responsibility to posterity is wrong and irresponsible.

Some components of the table highlight the unavailability on the market of some requested products (for example, drinks on tap or foods without added sugar). The coordinator of the table reassures them by telling them that solutions are available on the market. She said that she herself was able to view and talk to various exhibitors, at the Venditalia fair  held from 11 to 14 May 2022 in Milan. The market is free and, those who have implemented the solutions on time are correct to reap the benefits. Everyone else just has to follow a leadership already written. It is estimated that the document will be signed in January 2023 and 120 days later it will become law, government permitting.Sustainable

Some interventions and related considerations

A European directive provides for the increase in the number of fair-trade products in the market to be more sustainable. We must make a clarification that fairness is not synonymous with sustainable but with solidarity. We are in solidarity when we agree with the guidelines proposed by others, so as to share their responsibilities and commitments. Being sustainable, on the other hand, is when you go to meet your needs without compromising the needs of future generations. The fact remains that it is not a coherent issue with the environment, it is all too obvious that products that come from the most distant countries of the world of sustainable have very little.

Mention is also made of the European Union directive REA2 on palm oil, which must not be completely eliminated in production processes because it is indispensable in industry. It must be taken into account that in food palm oil is present at a percentage of 10%.. This percentage is lower than those we can find in cosmetics or other products. Moreover, according to,  palm oil is considered harmful to the person only when it is subject to a temperature above 180 °, an action that is not found in food production processes. The Italian agri-food industry alternatively uses sunflower oil, but comparing the environmental action of this oil with palm oil it can be seen that the difference in impact is irrelevant.  Good to know but another irrelevant topic for the Minimum Environmental Criteria of the Mi.T.E. SustainableRestaurants

Compostable products

A doubt is raised about compostable products but, without going into the merits, the matter has been referred back to the competent consortium. As well as references have been made to the European S.U.P. directive as an example to follow. Nothing could be more useless since even today there are no clear positions or indications and therefore cannot be proposed as a law. An Association that brings together some companies in the Vending supply chain raises the problem of the lack of optical sensors for the detection of the “cup” (reuse) on some distributors of old production. All the calls used to date have always been rewarded and made mandatory new vending machines (available for about ten years). The problem is therefore irrelevant, you can, if necessary, move the machines without sensors from the public to the private to solve it.

The turnover in the public sector managed by the vending operators corresponds to 18%.  Still partial information as the total weight on Public Administrations in 2019 was 25-26%. In the following years there were declines recorded especially in schools. However, it must be remembered that by now all students and teachers have returned to carry out their main activities in presence.


Then we move on to the theme of bottled water and the net. The mains water is subjected to continuous analytical checks of the microbiological, chemical and physical parameters by the municipal managers and the same parameters are constantly monitored by the health authorities. Therefore, the water supplied through the aqueduct system has such sanitary characteristics as to be preferable to many bottled waters. Microfiltration, to which water is subjected in dispensers and water houses, aims to improve its organoleptic characteristics, in particular with regard to the chlorine flavor that derives from the by-products of drinking water and disinfection techniques.

Many structures have already implemented policies to reduce the use of plastic thanks to the installation of network dispensers and compostable cups: there are hundreds of dispensers in public offices and schools. Let’s not forget that Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 states that water, once made available to the user, is, like other beverages, a food and as such must be managed.

Waste and recycling

The cup recycling project  is used as a solution to the problem by proposing commercial projects supported by plastic cup manufacturers. The best management is not to implement this and no project, as many studies consider it superfluous if not pejorative in terms of environmental impact. Reuse is the best practice and also intervene by reducing the use of packaging throughout the supply chain.

The issue of post-consumer waste is not really  a problem of the sector. The companies that manage the refreshment services are configured as the administration and distribution of food and beverages. They can not in any way manage waste which, in Italy, is the responsibility of specially qualified companies.

To date, who acts as a “hat” and monitoring on how these services work and are managed is “CONAI mom” and her seven “children”.

Another problem raised is related to fresh fruit without packaging as it does not comply with HACCP. The feedback is negative, there are certain fruits whose peel can act as packaging and therefore can be distributed safely.

As quality systems of refreshment services, certifications created and promoted by the vending companies themselves are re-proposed. It should be known that one is a duplicate of the HACCP system (mandatory for everyone) and the other related to the processes necessary for the processing of coffee. In the specification of the latter, the selection and processing procedures are used by everyone to be able to roast the coffee as needed to be dispensed by vending machines. Everyone follows these procedures, otherwise you could not talk about coffee for vending. These duplications create confusion among consumers and decision-makers of the contracting authorities. Sustainable

The Association that brings together all the organic operators acclaims the Ministry for the initiative and states that there is a great availability of products. It would be sufficient for operators to purchase these products and make them available in vending machines.

Of a completely different opinion is the Association that represents the food industry, opposed to the initiative, stating that some of its member companies need more time to adapt to change. In the meetings the decline in turnover and employment in this period is repeated, despite the fact that there are companies, active in the organic and sustainable, that they are hiring. Perhaps it is time to question ourselves, the choice not to adapt to the healthy and sustainable market  is not to be attributed to others. In our press release of the first Webinar, we presented numbers and values referring to the year 2019 that, two years later, have not changed.

Today, refreshment services have a turnover in the Public Administration of 0.51% compared to the food consumption sector at home and away from home.  But what are we talking about?


The Webinar ends with the intervention of Claude Bontorin, President of Associazione PIÚINFORMA, who closes the debate among all the participants. As anticipated in the introduction,  those who prove to be opposed to the Mi.T.E. initiative are reminded of common sense.  in formulating the Minimum Environmental Criteria for refreshment services. A special thanks to the organizer and all her team for the contents covered and the great patience in listening to all the interested parties.

These Minimum Environmental Criteria could be the keystone of the change as the participants were proactive who provided solutions and answers.  It is hoped that there will be a contribution to future tables by technicians. Their main objective is to act in the interest of the consumer using the potential that the food system expresses in Italy.

There are still adjustments to be made so that certain specifications are not interpreted by the contracting authorities and service operators.   They would therefore be the cause of appeals or failure to obtain what was requested or offered.

The path with the Mi.T.E.  offers numerous opportunities for learning about the system and its limitations. Associazione PIÚINFORMA fully supports the Minimum Environmental Criteria for refreshment services as the only tool for change. The presence of a lobbyist-linear attitude is recognized, that is, those who are against change in any form. An attitude that had to be confronted with experts present at the table who knew how to relate well with everyone.

We must make our own the urgent needs and commit everyone to reducing emissions to stop the rise in the earth’s temperature.

We are sure that the technology and experience of the entire agri-food sector will support this necessary transition, if there is the intention to do it.

Do not hesitate to contact us and get more information or mark any inaccuracies, if any.

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