The Power of Sustainability in Restaurants: Tips for Going Green


Restaurant Sustainability Practices

How much does your food business impact the environment? The topic of climate change and sustainability is a hot topic for business owners and individuals alike. Every day, we make decisions that impact our planet and affect future generations. As a restaurant owner, you can make a difference by implementing changes that reduce food waste, compost scraps, reduce pollution, manage energy efficiency, and more.

As you are improving your practices and prioritizing sustainability, here are a few tips to help with your green initiatives:

Always Use Sustainable Packaging

Plastic is polluting our world and filling the landfills. Luckily, sustainable food packaging can be used, allowing you to send take-out and delivery orders without worrying about where the plastic will end up after the customer finishes the meal.

Single-use packaging is inevitable in the restaurant industry. It’s simple to switch from old-fashioned plastic to EcoSafe products. These products will disintegrate because they are made of plants.

Managing Food Waste

A robust system for managing food waste is essential not only to avoid the need to throw away expired food but also to promote sustainability within your restaurant. Sustainable restaurants employ various strategies to minimize food waste, including the implementation of a FIFO (first in, first out) method, along with processes to diligently track expiration dates and ensure these ingredients are used before they go bad.

One effective way to streamline this process is to incorporate restaurant inventory management software. This software can help you keep a close eye on expiration dates, allowing you to identify ingredients that are nearing their limits and might not be used in time. When such situations arise, consider donating these items to a local shelter or a food bank. Not only does this act of generosity contribute to your community, but it also minimizes food waste and aligns with your restaurant’s sustainability goals.

Moreover, the diligent tracking of expiration dates doesn’t just prevent food from going to waste; it also aids in cost management by reducing the likelihood of over-purchasing items that may ultimately be discarded.

Proper Disposal of Uneaten Food and Food Scraps:

In addition to ensuring that edible food items are put to good use and not wasted, sustainable restaurants should also focus on the responsible disposal of uneaten food and food scraps. To achieve this, consider implementing a green waste disposal system.

Start by providing your kitchen and dining areas with clearly labeled bins with bags designated for green waste. These bins should be lined with a compostable bag to keep the bin sanitary and make it easy to empty. These bags are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic garbage bags and are essential for maintaining the integrity of the green waste stream.

Join a Recycling Program

Cardboard and plastic are inevitable, especially when you are ordering food and supplies to run your restaurant. Make sure these waste items are ending up in the right place by signing up for a local recycling program.

Inside the restaurant, set up recycling stations around the kitchen and encourage staff members to use these bins when discarding applicable items.

Invest in Energy-Efficient Equipment

Even though the purchase of energy-efficient equipment has a higher cost initially, it’s worth the investment because you can reduce energy usage in the future. When you need to buy new equipment, look for the Energy Star logo.

Reducing energy usage each day decreases utility bills and also feels good to know that your restaurant’s carbon footprint is lower.

Other Energy-Efficient Upgrades in Your Restaurant

In addition to investing in efficient appliances, there are other ways that you can save water and energy through small upgrades throughout the building. Consider these ideas:

  • Use timers or motion sensor lights in rooms that aren’t frequently used, such as the bathrooms
  • Install low-flow toilets in the bathrooms and low-flow sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Choose energy-efficient lighting, including halogen, LED, or CFL bulbs
  • Use occupancy sensors in the freezers
  • Test appliances regularly to detect energy leaks
  • Check the HVAC and plumbing systems annually to identify maintenance needs
  • Clean the HVAC system and refrigeration condenser coils to optimize performance.

Communicate With Your Customers

Not only should you implement these restaurant sustainability practices, but make sure to share this information with your customers. Many people want to support sustainable businesses, which means there is a higher likelihood that these customers will come back to your restaurant when they know you are reducing food waste and using sustainable packaging.

For advice or products to help you with the organics diversion side of your journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Together we can make a big impact on the sustainability of your business, and the future of our planet.

Food loss and waste occur at each stage of the supply chain. The biggest proportion (about 37%) happens in the home.

ReFED, 2021