Sustainability is big news in the restaurant industry — especially with two earth-loving trends (eco-friendly packaging and zero-waste dishes) showing up in the latest National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot Culinary Forecast.” Not only is sustainability an environmental issue but by taking steps toward it, businesses can also create operational efficiencies, reduce costs, please customers and increase profitability. Turn to these tangible tips for effective ways to make your business more sustainable and successful.
1. Reduce food waste
Food waste is a global problem, but in the United States alone, 76 billion (yes, that’s billion) pounds of food is thrown away each year. And shockingly (or not so shockingly), food service establishments are responsible for a whopping 40% of this accumulated waste. The majority of unconsumed food ends up in an incinerator or landfill, contributing to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. But that’s not all; the time, resources, water, farming, and processing associated with food production are also lost when food ends up in the trash.
While some waste is inevitable, there are ways to reduce the amount. Try tightening up your inventory practices. Are your par levels on point or could your stock levels be reduced without affecting your operation? Are employees practicing first-in-first-out standards? Can your kitchen whip up an amazing menu special with an overstocked item or yesterday’s prime rib?
If your operation can’t use the food, the next best thing is to donate it. Food insecurity affects millions of people every day, and food banks can often use the items your establishment can’t (food donations are also often considered a tax deduction). Another option to limit food waste is to compost it or offer scraps and unused produce to farmers for animals to consume. Moving to a more sustainable model might take some modifications in your operational processes. But, by investing in waste reduction measures, you’ll improve your bottom line (and rake in the good karma).
2. Seek green supplies
Cutting food waste is an important step to take, but it’s also important to think beyond the food when it comes to sustainability. From your packaging supplies, in-house dishware, paper supplies for transactions, and beyond, find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Formalize any green efforts by sharing those practices with staff and implementing training measures to ensure your sustainability efforts are widely understood and practiced.
Eco-consciousness is also a drive for many consumers. Not only can moving toward increased sustainability be a win for Mother Earth, but it’s also an effective marketing tool. Let your customers know what steps your operation is taking to help the environment. After all, 50-75% of people are willing to pay more for services and products that are sustainable!
3. Improve energy efficiency
Some food service establishments use up to ten times the amount of energy compared to other commercial businesses. Whether you invest in energy-efficient equipment or simply make an effort to conserve energy by turning off equipment that’s not in use, make it a point to reduce your energy consumption.
Commercial equipment can be an energy drain to your operation, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, Our Ovention MiLO® oven helps operators conserve energy by giving them the flexibility to operate one cavity at a lower temperature or only use one oven altogether. There’s also equipment on the market that saves energy through increased insulation, less water consumption, or quick-heating technologies. Incorporating innovative equipment created with energy usage in mind can bring an upfront investment, but it’ll pay dividends in the long run.
Efficiency on all fronts
Optimizing the energy consumption of your operation is one aspect of running a successful food service business, but efficiency across the board is also key. Want to ensure your operation achieves more all-around efficiency? Check out our blog, “4 Ways to Make Your Foodservice Operation More Efficient.”
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