People usually head out to a restaurant or cafes to celebrate special occasions. Most of these places use toxic plastic dishes and cutlery. However, restaurants are learning about the harmful effects of non-biodegradable products. Hence, they are slowly and steadily turning into eco-friendly restaurant by adopting the best eco-friendly products to encourage a healthy atmosphere.
Even customers are getting nature conscious. They choose restaurants that embrace eco-friendly products. This will create a chain reaction to make restaurants eco-friendly. The end result will be a viable future fit for mankind. Read on to know more about these trailblazing products.
Table of Contents
- What Is An Eco-friendly Restaurant?
- Why Should Restaurants Be Eco-friendly?
- What Are Environmental Issues In A Restaurant?
- How Do You Run An Eco-friendly Restaurant?
- How Do Restaurants Reduce Food Waste?
- What Is The Most Sustainable Restaurant?
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Is An Eco-friendly Restaurant?
We are lucky to live in a world where the flow of information can be quickly accessed. Thus, we can easily get info in seconds across the globe. It is also beneficial for the climate change campaign as it can quickly get through people to raise awareness about how global warming affects our earth badly.
A recent study UNICEF showed that around 73% of people are concerned about climate change and its horrendous impacts. But how does it affect restaurants?
Increased awareness to live more responsibly in nature makes these people quite picky, in a good way. Included in choosing a restaurant. Therefore, the growth of eco-friendly restaurants has started to appear recently. An eco-friendly restaurant is a business whose focus is not just serving food and making a profit. It also puts concerns about how their business affects the environment.
Moreover, the owners will think carefully about the food supply chain, presentation, delivery methods, waste treatment, and food waste which are often issues in restaurants. Not only that, but an eco-friendly restaurant also pays attention to the selection of raw ingredients they use, ensuring they comply with sustainable agriculture and animal welfare.
These facts distinguish restaurants that apply eco-friendly practices from those that don’t.
Why Should Restaurants Be Eco-friendly?
Running an eco-friendly restaurant definitely helps to reduce pollution as one of the negative impacts on the environment. However, as business owners, you may still wonder about the financial benefits of applying environmentally friendly values to your small enterprise.
Therefore, we try to briefly summarize the importance of having an eco-friendly restaurant from an environmental and business perspective:
1. Cut Budget
The first thing you might feel when implementing sustainable and green practices in your restaurant is the reduction in electric bills. It often happens because your restaurant saves energy! For example, when you switch regular bulbs to LED ones that have better durability.
They can last 100,000 hours compared to the common ones that only shine for 1,000 hours. In addition, investing more in sophisticated environmentally friendly equipment, such as refrigerators with temperature sensors, will help your employees understand that it’s time to close the door!
2. Reduce Waste
In addition to reducing the budget, applying sustainable principles also helps reduce restaurant waste. The restaurant may try to find an alternative to plastics, thus lowering plastic pollution sent to the landfill. You can substitute plastic wraps for paper, omit plastic cutlery for delivery orders, and use biodegradable cups, lids, and card boxes for the foods.
Regarding food waste, it will be wise to share the meals with those who need them or ask your employees to bring the leftovers home instead of dumping them into the bins. By reducing waste, you also cut bills for waste treatment. How amazing it is!
3. Brand Image
Being an eco-friendly restaurant doesn’t just focus on the environment but on consumers and your business benefits. People nowadays are more aware and willing to adopt sustainability. A 2021 study revealed that around 66% of 1,000 adults in the U.S. are willing to pay more for sustainable products. So, don’t worry about the rising price you put due to applying this value.
On the contrary, using such a value in your restaurant will build better customer relations. And, of course, attract others with the same importance to come and enjoy their meals in your restaurant.
What Are Environmental Issues In A Restaurant?
Undoubtedly, restaurants are greatly helped by the presence of plastic food containers. They are versatile and durable, ensuring the foods reach consumers safely without worrying about them being decayed or spilled. Other than that, single-use cutlery makes it easier for consumers to consume food without access to stainless steel or wooden cutlery.
Meanwhile, restaurants must also ensure that the food served remains fresh. This is very important to maintain food safety and authentic taste. Besides, they are also cheap! Hence, the budget for running out of the takeaways is reasonable.
However, these plastics cause serious troubles for our environment. From 1970 to 2017, The United Nations of Environmental Protection (UNEP) recorded that nearly 9.2 BILLION plastics were produced. Meanwhile, 8 MILLION tonnes of them pollute our oceans per year. As if it couldn’t get any worse, scientists predict that our earth will be wrapped in plastics by 2050. With other factors contributing to global warming, it can increase the earth’s temperature to around 1.5’C. What the worst domino effect!
Another issue circulating the non-sustainable restaurant is the food waste generated in this business. Statistics reported that U.S. restaurants dump 22 to 33 BILLION pounds of food into the bins each year. It is such a devastating number, but not surprising, knowing that 4-10% of the food is wasted before reaching the consumer’s plates.
Cornell University data also mentioned that consumers averagely leave 17% of their meals on their plates, and 55% of cooked food is left in restaurants despite the fact that they are still edible. The food waste that ends up in landfills creates a new problem. They will be decomposed by soil bacteria which releases methane, one of the gasses contributing to worsening global warming. But how come it all happens? How can we waste food while others suffer from starvation?
One of the leading causes of food waste is over-purchasing. The foods stored in the fridge can still spoil when they exceed their expiration date. Eventually, they become unfit for consumption and are thrown into the trash.
In addition, over-preparing due to errors in predicting the number of servings also contributes to increasing food waste. This will also be associated with excessive energy consumption from cooking and storing food. Not to mention the distribution of food which requires transportation which, again, uses more energy. What a complex issue!
How Do You Run An Eco-friendly Restaurant?
Building an eco-friendly restaurant can’t be overnight. If you are interested, you can make a list of what you have to change to insert sustainable value into your business.
Our experts would love to share some tips in how to run sustainable food business for beginners:
1. Find Local Food Supply
Instead of transporting foods from across the country, you can help cut the energy used to distribute foods by buying locally! Find the nearest farmers to supply fruits, veggies, and meats to your restaurant. Besides cutting the gas, you can also have fresh and affordable food ingredients. In addition, you reduce plastic packaging, which is generally used to pack the ingredients.
2. Offer Seasonal Menu
We often find in the news that an oversupply of fruits and veggies in certain seasons makes the selling price drop. Thus, the crops are left wasted. By offering a seasonal menu, you can help farmers by buying their crops while reducing food waste. Besides, you can also provide a new experience for your consumers by creating unique menus only available in certain seasons!
3. Go Digital!
Although full of pros and cons, today’s modern era offers many options to reduce pollution, one of which is paper waste. Instead of using paper cash registers, you can invest in more sophisticated tools where your employees can send receipts directly to consumers’ email addresses. It sounds trivial but imagine if there are 100 consumers per day, you reduce 100 pieces of paper waste!
4. Conserve Water
Restaurants consume a lot of water, mostly to cook, wash, and clean. But there is one that is often overlooked and wastes gallons of water per day, leaking pipes. So, when you find one, go check and fix it immediately. In addition to trying to save water, fixing these troubles will slash your water bills.
5. Use Reusable Products
Shifting from non-reusable materials to biodegradable ones is one of the best recommendations to make your restaurant more earth-friendly. Plastics are noxious, so you better reduce their use in the business. If you have no idea what to change, here are the 5 top-notch eco-friendly products to revolutionize your restaurant:
- PLA Straw
Customers just enjoyed a hearty meal and ordered some cool drinks. Serve those with the PLA straw and highlight the importance of saving the environment. These straws are affordable and biodegradable. Replace the plastic straws with this eco-friendly alternative and spread the message of saving the planet.
- Bagasse Domed Lid Cup Lined with PLA
This trendy bagasse product will be useful in serving beverages. When the customer enquiries about this eco-friendly product, you can share about the green initiatives taken up by the restaurant. This will change the customer’s perspective about plastic products and motivate them to switch to eco-friendly alternatives.
- Cassava Garbage Bags
Restaurants produce a lot of waste every day. The best eco-friendly product to dispose of unwanted waste is a cassava bag. It is 100% biodegradable and this ensures that you do not affect the environment. Undertake such green ventures and be a torchbearer for clean and green earth.
- Bagasse Paper Bowls Lined with PLA
Customers usually order a bowl of soup before getting to the main course. Restaurants can use bagasse products to serve soups or sauces. Customers will enjoy the delicious soup while learning about the benefits of safeguarding Mother Nature from plastic pollution.
- Cornstarch Based Button In-square Box
This cornstarch product can be used to deliver relishing delicacies to customers at home. Stick a note mentioning the advantages of using the best eco-friendly products. It will ensure that customers will enjoy their meal while promoting the message of creating a viable future for mankind.
These are some of the best eco-friendly products which restaurants can adopt and publicize the need to protect the environment. However, there are many more products including eco-friendly cutlery that hotels and cafes can use instead of the harmful plastic ones. Take advantage of these environmentally friendly alternatives and wage a war on plastic pollution.
How Do Restaurants Reduce Food Waste?
The problem with restaurants besides environmental pollution is food waste. As you probably read above (scroll up!), restaurants throw out a lot of edible foods that cost them a lot of money.
Of course, this is very detrimental financially and environmentally. For that reason, we have prepared several fantastic ideas to reduce food waste in your restaurant:
1. First In First Out (FIFO)
Most of the food waste comes from spoiled foods that are stored in the refrigerator for too long. Most assume that everything stored in the fridge can last longer. Even though not all foodstuffs can last long there, especially fresh veggies and fruits. It also applies to the freezer. Despite low temperatures, meats that stay longer there will lose specific characteristics, such as juiciness.
Hence, it will be better to introduce “First In, First Out” measurements. You can educate your kitchen staff to record batches of food supply in the refrigerator and record the date. What is stored must be used first and vice versa. Thus, you can minimize the presence of rotten food before cooking.
2. Donate The Leftovers
Instead of throwing food into the garbage, donating it to food bank facilities would be wise. Usually, they will distribute it to people in need. You can also collaborate with local non-profit organizations engaged in charity to distribute these foods. But make sure they are edible and safe to eat.
Moreover, you can offer special late-night discounts to attract customers to buy foods that are still available at your restaurant. In addition, sharing the food with your staff would be nice too!
3. Offer Small Portions
Nowadays, there is a new trend to eat large portions of food. Unfortunately, this trend leads to increased food waste because most of the leftovers will be thrown into the garbage. Therefore, offering small to medium portions will be an option to avoid food waste.
Moreover, it allows consumers to try various other menus because their stomachs will not be packed with the same menu. The price will be much lower too. So, it’s like a win-win solution for both parties.
What Is The Most Sustainable Restaurant?
Adopting sustainability in your restaurant means running a business with three main principles: preserving natural sources and ensuring positive economic and social impacts. You also have to ensure your business does not contribute to environmental damage impacting global warming and climate change.
In addition, the restaurant can also educate and introduce sustainable consumption to the consumers through how they process and serve food.
Suppose you need inspiration about eco-friendly and sustainable business. In that case, there are some of the most sustainable restaurants you can get inspiration from. One of them is Azurmendi, located in the city of Larrabetzu, Spain. They take advantage of the sun’s heat stored in solar panels and geothermal energy to run their business, especially in the winter.
It also has rooftop gardens and a greenhouse to plant veggies. Customers can also do a short tour around it. In addition, it has a seasonal menu (like we’ve discussed before!) to reduce food waste. Interested in channeling this idea to your restaurant?
Having an eco-friendly restaurant is possible and, in fact, has benefits for your business. It helps reduce plastic and food waste, thus protecting the environment from further damage. Also, you can make more profit by lowering energy consumption, buying food ingredients from local markets, and inviting consumers who share similar values to the restaurant.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do restaurants save energy?
Little did we know that restaurants consume a lot of energy to operate. The largest energy allocation is generally from food preparation, including cooking, which takes up around 35% of total energy. Meanwhile, around 69% – 81% of the energy is allocated for cooking, refrigerators, water heaters, and lighting. It is of course followed by electric bills which are not small.
According to the U.S. Energy Information and Administration (EIA), restaurant owners spend approximately $2.90 and $0.19 per square foot for electricity and natural gas, respectively. To save energy in restaurant, the owners can introduce good kitchen practices to the chefs and workers, such as:
- Close the refrigerator immediately after opening.
- Using cooking utensils that are not large in size, so that the heating process does not take too long.
- Turn off the water heater and reduce its use.
- Change light bulbs into more energy-efficient LEDs with excellent durability (can last up to 100,000 hours!).
Why do restaurants waste so much food?
It is common knowledge that restaurants waste a lot of food. But, still, few know the statistics. Sadly, around 85% of stored food ingredients are thrown out of the bin. In addition, a report states that 31% of restaurant food supply chains end up in landfill, which is worth US$162 BILLION! That’s huge! But what triggered all of this nightmare?
Generally, this is because restaurants over-prepare food for orders. In addition, food banks can only accept fresh foods (e.g., fruits and veggies). Thus, the cooked ones will be forced to donate, and the rest will be dumped into the garbage.
How can restaurants reduce pollution?
With the increasing awareness about climate change, many business sectors, including restaurants, have begun to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives to ensure sustainable business. But remember, reducing doesn’t mean cutting totally. So, here are some options eco-friendly restaurant owners can do to reduce pollution produced by their business:
- Avoid plastic packaging for food takeaways. Choose cardboard or paper-based that are more eco-friendly instead.
- Find local food supplies. It will significantly reduce the energy used to distribute the food ingredients you need for your restaurant.
- Offer seasonal menus. It may help you reduce food waste and utilize more food available during the seasons.
- Try to give more meatless options. The husbandry and cultivation of animal-based proteins, such as cows, sheep, goats, and fish, produce large amounts of methane. It can trap temperatures in the atmosphere, worsening global warming.
- Invest in energy-efficient equipment. For example, choose LED lights to save energy or buy refrigerators with timers and sensors that will tell you exactly when to close the door.
How can restaurants improve cleanliness?
Hygiene is one of the keys to restaurant success as it is one of the considerations for consumers to choose where to have their meals. In addition, keeping hygiene ensures food safety which is a critical point for the food business. Knowing the importance of this matter, here are some tips to ensure the best hygiene for your restaurant:
- Sanitize the refrigerator weekly, as this is the place to store fresh food.
- Clean ovens, utensils, and walls regularly.
- Sweep and mop the kitchen and restaurant floor every day.
- Wash and disinfect faucets and sinks.
- Disinfect tables and chairs every day.
- Provide closed bins to avoid foul odor.
- Take out the trash once the bins are full.