Due to long operating hours, waste produced by restaurants is considerably high and includes: food waste, paper, plastics and glass. Therefore, the benefits of operating sustainably are plentiful.
Food for thought
Going green and using sustainable methods are long-term investments, but they also create long-term cost savings and reduce operating costs. Furthermore, millennials put greater effort into living sustainably and are redefining the restaurant experience as their eating and dining behaviors evolve. They are more likely to choose one restaurant over another based on its ability to be sustainable. In short, sustainable practices can give restaurants a competitive edge.
Beyond banning plastic straws and adding vegan options, restaurants have found novel ways of introducing environmentally friendly initiatives. These include:
1. A farm-to-fork menu and seasonal options that not only taste better but are also more abundant and readily available, minimizing the financial and environmental cost of transportation;
2. Less meat and dairy, more vegan choices, noting that the rearing of cows is of great environmental concern, considering that cattle emit large amounts of gases every year, require large areas of land and pollute ecosystems;
3. Sourcing sustainable seafood is an excellent way to introduce protein-rich items to a menu;
4. The use of eco-friendly cleaning products that do not contain toxic chemicals, especially those with microbeads that are a major cause of marine pollution;
5. Smart packaging and disposables, with a greater use of paper packaging, biodegradable meal trays and edible food packaging, such as beeswax wraps, fruit jellies and seaweed wraps;
6. Monitoring all perishables, with effective compost programs for organic trash that is disposed of daily;
7. Using reclaimed materials in restaurant design and fit outs;
8. Growing on-site gardens for herbs and selected vegetables;
9. Reducing paper usage with QR menus to avoid reprinting menus; and
10. Installing and using energy efficient equipment and installations, such as:
– Timers and sensors on lights
– Low-flow toilets and sinks
– LED lighting
– Solar technology
– Recycled rain water
– Spot air conditioners
– Occupancy sensors in freezers
– Green Web hosting companies that use renewable energy for their servers.
With increasing pressure from the “sustainability generation,” restaurants must prioritize and implement sustainable initiatives. But the challenge lies in changing the behavior and mindset of restaurant employees. This can be achieved through greater awareness about the importance of green issues, which requires training to ensure that practices that have been implemented are impactful.