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National Restaurant Association - 4 eco-friendly trends at NRA Show 2015

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4 eco-friendly trends at NRA Show 2015

Operators looking to save energy, waste and water found tips, tools and solutions to accomplish those goals at NRA Show 2015. Here are four trends we spotted this year:

Food-waste disposal at the source

Restaurateurs facing regulations to stop organic waste from going to landfill are looking for new ways to reduce waste at the source. Enter EnviroPure Systems, a South Carolina firm that developed technology to break down the waste over a 24-hour period and turn it into gray water that can be used to irrigate landscaping. Jim Slanina, the company’s president, said restaurateurs "know regulations are coming soon – in places like Massachusetts, New York and California – and are looking at solutions." Food waste was an especially hot topic for operators who'd already eliminated cardboard and plastic from their waste stream, he noted. He said EnviroPure Systems' technology also helps reduce waste carriers’ pickup and tonnage fees because the amount of waste and hauling frequency is decreased.

Reusable napkins made from bamboo

Operators looking to save water and reduce laundering showed interest in Pure Napkin California, the makers of a 100 percent biodegradable compact napkin made from reusable bamboo. The product comes compressed into a tablet and  expands when moistened with a few droplets of water. “It grows into a full-sized napkin in front of your eyes,” said Attila Kondorosi, the company’s president. “People have been telling us they’re looking for ways to get ahead on sustainability and cut down on the amount of water they use. Our product is one way of doing that.”

Plant-based disposable plates, bowls and flatware

Restaurateurs interested in switching their disposable plates and flatware from plastic showed interest in plant-based, biodegradable options at the NRA Show. Florida-based Perfect Stix LLC offered flatware made from birchwood;  California-based World Centric Solutions offered plates and trays from a combination of sugar cane, corn and wheat straw fiber. “The people we talked to are really pushing to become more environmentally friendly,” said Perfect Stix’s Brian Broderick. “They’re trying to purchase and use products that are more sustainable.” His company's products break down in a commercial composting system over a period of about three to four months.

Automatic grease removal systems

Operators seeking alternatives to traditional grease traps found options like Goslyn Environmental’s automatic grease removal system, which separates and collects used kitchen grease at the source. “The system hooks up to a three- compartment sink, dishwasher or combi-oven  --  wherever the grease is going to be,” said Doug Samuelson, the company’s president and CEO.  “We want to capture the grease and recover it before it gets into the drain system. Once the grease is separated out, it can be used to create biodiesel fuel.” Samuelson said the return on investment is between 12 months and 18 months.

Check out the NRA's Conserve program for tips, tools and solutions on sustainability at restaurants or foodservice operations.

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