With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, restaurants and customers are thinking green. Not only about their foods and drinks, but also about the environment.
Restaurants produce significant amounts of waste each year, whether that be food waste, water waste, or energy waste. Luckily all these wastes can be addressed with eco-friendly practices. Below we discuss six ideas of ways your restaurant can be greener.
By implementing these 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 and foremost, reducing the environmental impact of a restaurant can help to improve its reputation among customers. Consumers nowadays are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their food choices. Thus, they are actively seeking out restaurants that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendliness. By making efforts to reduce waste and conserve energy a restaurant can attract customers who share these values.
Furthermore, eco-friendly practices can also help restaurants to save money in the long run. 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 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 become more economically and environmentally friendly. Some of these practices may be easier than others to incorporate. For example, purchasing new equipment may not be necessary for your restaurant. However, maybe you can 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.
Invest in ENERGY STAR Kitchen Equipment
Not all commercial kitchen equipment is constructed with an environmentally friendly design in mind. To make it easy to decide 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.
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.
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%.
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.
Reduce Water Waste
Water is an essential resource for the foodservice industry, but it’s often overlooked and taken for granted. Commercial dishwashers are one of the largest water and energy consumers in the commercial kitchen.
By implementing some simple practices and investing in water-saving products, restaurants can significantly reduce their water usage and save money. By conserving hot water, you can cut down on 2 separate monthly bills: water/sewer and electricity.
Investing in energy efficient dishwashers can greatly decrease your water usage, while saving you money. Although different brands may offer a variety of options and features, the average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle, whereas 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.
By using a low flow spray valve, which uses as little as 1 gallon per minute, restaurants can save more water for dishwashers. The T&S Brass B-0107-C Low Flow Prerinse Spray Valve is a favorite for its 0.65 gallons per minute 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. By regularly checking for leaks and replacing faulty plumbing, restaurants can significantly reduce water waste.
Get an estimate of how much water your restaurant is wasting per day and per year using the USGS Drip Calculator.
Invest in Energy-Efficient Lighting
An easy area to go green with your restaurant is with lighting. On average lighting accounts for 13% of a restaurant’s total energy consumption. Lighting that is ENERGY STAR certified typically uses up to 90% less energy than traditional lighting.
You can make a major impact on your restaurant’s green initiative by a change as small as changing a light bulb. Simply moving from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs can save you money every day.
By installing occupancy sensors in storage rooms, restrooms, freezers, and break rooms, you can cut down on electric expenses. These sensors will turn lights on when someone enters the room, and off when they exit to conserve electricity.
Utilize Reusable and Recyclable Supplies
Restaurants can take significant steps towards reducing their environmental impact by utilizing reusable and recyclable supplies.
One way restaurants can utilize recyclable supplies is by 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 customer’s minds.
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. By switching to these, restaurants can eliminate the need for single-use plastic containers.
By providing customers with reusable cups or containers, you can cut down on extra products the customer uses. 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.
Minimize Food Waste
The average restaurant typically produces around 100,000 pounds of garbage per year, according to the Green Restaurant Association. However, by making some slight changes and working more eco conscious, your restaurant can greatly reduce its environmental impact.
To help cut down on wasted foods, be aware of how much food is being overproduced in your kitchens. Notice how much food is coming back to the kitchen and being tossed. According to Foodservice Equipment Reports, over 7 million pounds of food is overproduced and tossed each year.
A major reason for all this waste is that portion sizes are too large. Since the 1970s in America, portion sizes have been on a continual rise. Dish and plate sizes can unknowingly add to chef’s over-portioning meals. Kitchens shouldn’t just cook less, instead they should cook 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.
Repurposing Food Waste – 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.
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.
So, this St. Patty’s Day, don’t just go green with your foods and drinks. Take your whole restaurant to the next level by making some green changes.