Save Your Restaurant Money by Going Green

Last updated on July 11th, 2023 at 01:10 pm

Restaurants produce significant amounts of waste each year. Whether it’s food waste, water waste, or energy waste, going green can save your restaurant money.

Below we discuss six ideas of ways your restaurant can implement eco-friendly practices.

Restaurants can reduce their impact on the environment while also attracting customers who prioritize sustainable living. We will highlight the importance of eco-friendliness in the food industry and provide practical tips for restaurants.

Why Would You Want an Eco-Friendly Restaurant?

First, reducing the environmental impact of a restaurant can improve its reputation among customers. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their food choices.

Because of this, they are actively seeking out restaurants that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendliness. Make efforts to reduce waste and conserve energy to attract customers who share these values.

Eco-friendly practices can also help restaurants save money over time.

By reducing equipment energy consumption, minimizing food waste, and using more sustainable materials, restaurants can cut down on their operating costs and improve their bottom line. Although purchasing new, eco-conscious equipment may have a high initial price, the difference will pay off in the long run.

6 Ways Your Restaurant Can Go Green

Below we will discuss six different ways your restaurant can go green to save money.

Some of these practices may be easier than others to incorporate. For example, purchasing new equipment with better energy ratings may not be possible for your restaurant.

However, maybe it’s possible to incorporate more recyclable materials when serving meals.

The graph below is from the ENERGY STAR Guide for Restaurants.

It demonstrates the areas where restaurants spend the most money and energy. Each of these areas can be adjusted to help restaurants minimize their impact on the environment.

Pie Chart titled "Example of the Average Energy Consumption in a Full-Service Restaurant". 18% Sanitation, 35% Food Preperation, 28% HVAC, 13% Lighting, and 6% Refrigeration.

1. Invest in ENERGY STAR Kitchen Equipment

Not all commercial kitchen equipment is constructed with an environmentally friendly design in mind. To easily identify which equipment is the most eco-friendly, certifications like ENERGY STAR are awarded to products.

ENERGY STAR is the trusted, government backed symbol for energy efficiency and environmental protection. For more in-depth information, check out our “What is ENERGY STAR” blog.

Energy star logo found on products that can help restaurants go green to save money.

Whether its cooking, refrigeration, or dishwashing equipment, there is significant energy savings associated with using ENERGY STAR certified models. While high efficiency restaurant equipment may require a larger investment up front, it can also significantly lower your utility bills. Over time your financial savings will make up for that initial price difference.

High quality products like the Manitowoc IDT0500A 520 lb. Air Cooled Dice Ice Machine and Dispenser can help lower energy consumption by an average of 12%. This unit also provides up to 23% reduction in condenser water usage.

Manitowoc IDT0500A 520 lb. Ice Machine and Dispenser

The Frymaster ESG35T 35 lbs. Gas Fryer is an ENERGY STAR certified deep fryer. At 70,000 BTU/hr., this fryer uses 33% less energy than comparable models. Its three 6″ heating tubes deliver superior heat transfer, which reduces flue heat loss by 27%.

Frymaster ESG35T Gas Fryer

The SEAGATE SUC28R 28″ Undercounter Refrigerator is an excellent choice for a compact, eco-friendly refrigerator. According to ENERGY STAR, commercial refrigerators and freezers with the ENERGY STAR rating are on average 25% more efficient than standard models.

SEAGATE SUC28R Undercounter Refrigerator

2. Reduce Water Waste

Water is an essential resource for the foodservice industry, but is often overlooked. Commercial dishwashers are one of the largest water and energy consumers in a commercial kitchen.

Implementing simple practices and investing in water-saving products, restaurants can significantly reduce their water usage and save money.

Conserve hot water, to cut down on 2 separate monthly bills: water/sewer and electricity.

Investing in energy efficient dishwashers can greatly decrease your water usage and save you money.

Different brands may offer a variety of options and features, but the average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle.

The average ENERGY STAR rated dishwasher uses four gallons or less.

Check out the CMA E-AH Low Temp 17″ Door Dishwasher for an eco-friendly, compact dishwasher. This unit only uses 1.01 gallons of water per cycle and 37 gallons per hour.

Low flow spray valves for prerinsing use as little as 1 gallon per minute. Restaurants can save more water for dishwashers by using a spray valve like the T&S Brass B-0107-C Low Flow Prerinse Spray Valve. This uses 0.65 gallons per minute with flow control.

Another source of water waste is leakage.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a single household’s leaky faucet can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day.

Nearly 1 trillion gallons of water per year is wasted in the United States each year simply because of leaks. Regularly check for leaks in your restaurant and replace faulty plumbing to significantly reduce water waste.

You can estimate your business’s daily and annual water waste using the USGS Drip Calculator.

3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Lighting

An easy area to go green with your restaurant is with lighting.

On average, lighting takes up 13% of a restaurant’s total energy consumption.

However, ENERGY STAR rated lighting uses up to 90% less energy than traditional lighting.

Go green with eco-friendly lighting to save money

You can install motion sensors in storage rooms, restrooms, freezers, and break rooms, to reduce electric expenses. These sensors will turn lights on when someone enters the room, and off when they exit to conserve electricity.

Make a major impact on your restaurant’s green initiative with a change as small as changing a light bulb. Simply moving from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs can save your business money every day.

4. Utilize Reusable and Recyclable Supplies

Restaurants can take significant steps towards reducing their environmental impact by using reusable and recyclable supplies.

Going green on a smaller scale may look like using paper or biodegradable plastic straws instead of traditional plastic ones.

Plastic straws are a major contributor to ocean pollution. This small switch can make a big impact on the world’s oceans, as well as within customers’ minds.

Go green with recyclable supplies to save money.

Restaurants can also switch to compostable or recyclable takeout containers and utensils.

These products are normally made from sustainable materials like bamboo, cornstarch, or paper. Switch to biodegradable takeout containers to eliminate the need for single-use plastic containers.

With reusable cups or containers, you can cut down on single-use products the customer needs. Some restaurants have also started offering discounts to customers who bring their own reusable cups or containers.

Overall, utilizing recyclable supplies is an effective way for restaurants to promote sustainability.

By taking steps towards using sustainable materials, restaurants can make a positive impact on the environment and their bottom line.

5. Minimize Food Waste

The average restaurant typically produces around 100,000 pounds of garbage per year, according to the Green Restaurant Association. However, monitoring and managing food waste can help your restaurant reduce its environmental impact.

To eliminate wasted food, you should be knowledgeable about the daily prep needs of our restaurant. If your kitchen staff is over-prepping, you may be losing food you don’t even know about.

According to Foodservice Equipment Reports, over 7 million pounds of food is overproduced and thrown out each year.

One possible reason for all this waste is oversized portions. Since the 1970’s in America, portion sizes have been on a continual rise.

Dish and plate sizes can unknowingly add to chefs over-portioning meals. Kitchens shouldn’t just cook less, instead they should evaluate the appropriate amount for customers to eat, while considering the meal valuable for the price being charged.

One effective way for restaurants to minimize food waste is to monitor inventory levels regularly. By preventing over-ordering of ingredients, foods are used up before they expire.

Repurposing leftovers or excess ingredients into new dishes can also help minimize waste. For example, put your excess fruits and vegetables in a Robot Coupe J100ULTRA Electric Juicer to make delicious smoothies.

Robot Coupe J100ULTRA Electric Juicer

6. Repurpose Food Waste with Composting

Composting is an effective way for restaurants to minimize food waste and turn it into a valuable resource.

Composting is the process of breaking down organic material into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. By composting food waste, restaurants can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water, and save money on disposal costs.

To implement a composting program, restaurants can start by educating staff on what can and cannot be composted. GRA has an excellent visual aid resource here.

They can also invest in composting equipment, such as bins or tumblers. Restaurants can work with local composting facilities or start their own composting program on-site.

Furthermore, restaurants can use composted material in their own personal gardens. They can grow their own herbs or vegetables, reducing reliance on outside suppliers and promoting a sustainable food system. This can also help you engage with customers and educate them on the importance of sustainability and reducing food waste.

By taking small steps towards composting, restaurants can make a big impact on the environment and their bottom line.

Shop True refrigeration's eco-friendly products to save money.


Consider these ideas to help your restaurant go green. We only have one planet, so we should all do our part to keep it beautiful.

These tips can help your restaurant save money, while also giving you an eco-friendly reputation.

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