The National Restaurant Association’s Conserve program is challenging restaurateurs to make their businesses more sustainable. It doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to deploy, just something environmentally responsible and efficient.
Following are four suggestions from industry experts on easy practices to implement:
Recycle your cardboard to help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, says Jeff Clark, program director for the NRA’s Conserve initiative. Cardboard takes up about 25 percent of the space in your trash dumpster, so this one practice can eliminate the need for a large receptacle. Also, if the material isn’t contaminated, it could have significant value and a second life as something else, like paper cups.
Conserve water by establishing a baseline to understand how you’re using water, says Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact for Starbucks Coffee Co. Don’t just look at your water bill. Take a look at all of the water components in your restaurant. Learn where the most significant usage is and tackle that immediately.
Reduce your food waste at the source by tracking and monitoring how much is produced, says Andrew Shakman, founder and CEO of food-waste prevention company LeanPath Inc. Get your employees to record what goes into the trash, and meet regularly to review the data and discuss ways to prevent that waste from occurring in the future.
Some companies are interested in converting your used fryer oil into biodiesel, which could result in extra revenue. Negotiate rates and services with your local grease haulers or biodiesel production companies. Also, there are haulers who will provide storage containers and clean grease traps as part of your contract. In some cases, they will clean the grease traps for you. When sewer lines get clogged with a buildup of fats, oil and greases, sewage back-ups can occur.
Once you’ve chosen a sustainable practice for your restaurant, tweet us @ConserveNow and tell us what it is.
Pictured top right: Back-of-house employee tracks and records food waste in the kitchen