Sustainability in the Restaurant Industry

Restaurant sustainability

Doing what is right for the long-term success of your business, as well as your community and its environment, is the responsible way to achieve business sustainability. Being a sustainable business optimizes your facility – in striving for zero waste, you can save money, and energy is conserved.

Since the start of the 21st Century, the importance of sustainability has grown, as has our awareness of the need to operate in a sustainable fashion.   Industry estimates are that a restaurant uses five to 10 times more energy per square foot than any other business.  Because restaurants and food service businesses are such energy consumers, it is up to facility managers and business owners to continue to seek out the best new equipment, materials and processes to minimize energy use, water use, and waste.

“Going Green” is a very popular, and important, topic for the restaurant industry, and “going green” gets facility managers and business owners much closer to achieving sustainability.

There are many reasons that restaurants should go green. Besides a genuine concern for the environment, a restaurant can increase its profits by going green. Savvy foodies flock to restaurants that specialize in food made from local, organic ingredients, and those restaurants that advertise green practices in their marketing strategy are winning a greater market share.  It’s also a positive public relations practice to incorporate sustainable measures into the operations at any food service location, leading to greater credibility for your business in a crowded and touch market.

Going green can be expensive, if a strategic approach is not taken.   But it can also be more expensive if you must pay fines and upgrade practices and facilities to get into compliance with local laws and Federal mandates.  For some people, going green can be as simple as buying a farmer’s market tomato – but that is not nearly enough for a restaurant to be considered “green.”

Restaurant managers know there is so much more to running a successful restaurant than cooking great food — what happens in the kitchen and behind the scenes is crucial. Buying, growing, serving and recycling the food and solid waste presents just as powerful of an opportunity as the menu does. While being green may not be the top priority, it is still an opportunity for a restaurant to increase its business base and help improve the environment.

Single-stream recycling of bottles, cans, aluminum, plastic, cardboard and paper is the standard for U.S. businesses, but it is important for facility managers to find the right vendor to help them maintain their recycling efforts as well as dispose of the materials properly.  Grease traps are also important for facility managers in any food service setting, providing a responsible method for collecting waste materials, but again, it is important to find the right way to dispose of the collected grease without having a negative impact on your environment.

Businesses that recycle bottles, paper, plastic, etc. can experience an increase in business and positive public perceptions if they advertise and promote that “best practice.”  An even better way to make a positive community impact is donating leftover food to a community food bank or shelter.  In your customer’s eyes, you will be a business that cares about your community, your environment, and that you want to make a difference.

Being sustainable is the optimum way to increase your business, serve cleaner and healthier food, and be environmentally friendly – all the good things we want to be.

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