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National Restaurant Association - How important is sustainability to your bottom line?

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How important is sustainability to your bottom line?

The National Restaurant Association has released “Serving up Sustainability,” its second annual report on the steps restaurateurs and the NRA are taking to promote environmental sustainability.

The report sheds light on topics such as food waste reduction and efficient solutions. It also offers insight into the NRA’s Conserve initiative and the strides made to enlighten restaurateurs on sustainability.

Recent NRA research found that 46 percent of consumers would dine at restaurants offering sustainable or organic food and more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds want to go to restaurants that practice sustainability. Because of this, operators are seeking ways to operate more responsibly.

“Today, more than ever, environmental consciousness is important to restaurateurs and their guests,” says Dawn Sweeney, the NRA’s president and CEO. “Through increased awareness and implementation of sustainability practices, the industry is operating more efficiently and helping improve the environment for everyone we serve. We’re working diligently to educate restaurateurs and encourage them to take action. That is the key to long-term success.”

To help restaurateurs learn more about sustainability, the NRA has produced:

  • New web resources: a revamp of Restaurant.org/Conserve, offering tips, tools and advice on business practices that save money and protect the environment.
  • A new monthly newsletter, Bright Ideas, highlighting best practices, case studies, and video advice from industry experts that give operators insight into sustainability.
  • Research conducted by Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy that explored how restaurants in Durham, N.C., could reduce food waste and divert material from landfills.
  • A report, “Spotlight on Sustainability,” from NRA Show 2014, featuring easy steps restaurateurs could take to be more environmentally friendly.


Conserve program director Jeff Clark notes that restaurateurs face challenges. “There aren’t enough facilities to accept waste material for recycling and composting, and restaurants also use a lot of water and energy. But even with those challenges, more businesses are practicing sustainability. We’re making good progress.”

The NRA will continue its focus on sustainable practices, such as food-waste reduction, to help the industry cut food costs and the amount of material it sends to landfills. It is a co-founding member of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute. As part of that effort, the Association will continue to promote and publicize research and data on the subject.

“Some manufacturers, retailers and restaurateurs think it’s hard to reduce food waste,” says Laura Abshire, the NRA’s director of sustainability. “We need to overcome that. Each part of the commercial food chain must train its staff members, build better infrastructure, and elevate this to a top-level issue.”

Download your free copy of “Serving up Sustainability” here.

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