In general, eco-friendly restaurant pros and cons focus on the comparison between business benefits and initial investment. But, the benefits and drawbacks of sustainable trends for restaurants may be too closely connected. It helps to understand an eco-friendly restaurant’s primary goals as it works to become a responsible, cost-conscious powerhouse of financial and social gain.
Mainly, eco-friendly restaurants want to cut waste, reduce energy usage, and minimize carbon footprints overall by adopting smart, green practices. Among these are food waste reduction programs, investment in sustainable cutlery or packaging, and choosing local and organic produce. Many more also seek out sustainable material suppliers while replacing old machines with new energy-efficient, certified appliances.
You’ll find that the benefits of sustainability, despite an initial investment of time and energy, quickly show themselves. These sustainable moves improve the health of the restaurant over time by attracting more customers, retaining their business, and cutting unnecessary costs. They also save our planet from the added burden of irresponsible waste and inventory control.
Key Takeaway: The pros and cons of an eco-friendly restaurant are linked because the initial cost of implementing green practices soon pays for itself through cost reduction, better promotion, and improved customer retention.
Pros of Eco-Friendly Restaurant Practices
The early and current research on eco-friendly restaurants strongly supports that green practices enhance customer loyalty while boosting brand image. More and more, customers are aware of environmental issues as they choose where to eat.
Consumers are increasingly likely to choose restaurants that show a commitment to green initiatives through sustainable programs. Showcasing sustainable objectives in your restaurant will make it easier to capture the more than 70 percent of consumers who say eco-friendliness helps them choose one restaurant over another.
Taken together, the pros and benefits of sustainable restaurants are lower overhead costs from food wastage, energy usage, and social media marketing. With cost-saving practices on one side and more customers choosing green restaurants on the other, you may wonder what the cons of sustainable restaurants could be.
Cons of Sustainable Restaurant Initiatives
Initially, transitioning to an eco-friendly restaurant operation may be a challenge for those who see high rates of food waste, disposable plastic usage, and energy consumption. But, these are also all areas where restaurants would aim to cut back in the ordinary course of business planning.
Whether they value the financial more than the environmental, each restaurant’s approach to sustainability must be unique. Likewise, some programs may be a better start than others, especially if some endure more costs from food waste, energy usage, and retention-focused consumer marketing.
With each kind of sustainable program, the pros and cons of an eco-friendly restaurant will vary slightly. Consider some of the pros and cons for each type of program in our next section which explores the bottom line for the most popular green practices for restaurants.
Bottom Line for Restaurants: Sustainable Programs Compared
To outline the most common pros and cons of eco-friendly restaurant initiatives, you’ll find the pros and cons of some of the most common sustainable programs below.
Explore which may be most suited to your restaurant chain or local business by comparing their costs, requirements, and potential benefits.
Recycling and Composting
Recycling is the well-known way that restaurants and businesses turn one wasted product into a new consumable material. Composting is the process of turning food and kitchen waste into reusable organic matter for farming and other uses.
Pros of Recycling and Composting:
- Creates a more sustainable, environmentally aware restaurant culture to promote for customers.
- Reduces waste and improves inventory management in the kitchen and operations, which reduces the emission of green house gases
- Composting and recycling programs are both relatively simple processes to add to restaurant business practice
Cons of Recycling and Composting:
- Composting may be more high-maintenance than traditional practices of simply discarding food scraps.
- Recycling and composting both require time and energy from staff to get started effectively.
Finding packaging made from sustainable or recycled and biodegradable sources may initially challenge restaurants. However, consumers notice when they’re using materials that are “good” or “bad” for environmental conservation and protection.
Pros of Eco-friendly Packaging:
- Eco-friendly packaging choices offer customers sustainable, recycled, biodegradable materials to ease ecological anxieties.
- Delivery packaging made from reusable or biodegradable materials reduces the reliance on plastic while boosting brand image.
- Costs are often cut by choosing more eco-friendly packaging, especially as they help to expand customer bases indirectly.
Cons of Eco-friendly Packaging:
- Switching materials can be expensive for restaurants at first, especially if they have bulk quantities of other materials.
- Some eco-friendly materials do not hold up well during transportation or delivery, so take care to test and manage vendor materials before use.
Finding suitable substitutes for the popular practice of using plastics for every need is becoming a pressing need, especially as competition among restaurants heats up. Many chains and local restaurant businesses already prefer glass, metal, or plant-based restaurant material suppliers.
Pros of Plastic Alternatives:
- Plastic alternatives for restaurants are biodegradable and do not contain the same harmful byproducts of plastics.
- Alternatives to plastic are often suitable for both hot and cold uses in the kitchen, during service, and more.
Cons of Plastic Alternatives:
- Some materials, like glass and metal, are more costly initial investments than single-use foam options.
Frequently Asked Questions about Green Restaurant Practices
See what you can expect from becoming an eco-friendly restaurant through this review of common questions about the pros and cons of sustainable food supply and service. Get an inside look at research that proves green practices have a positive benefit on cost-savings, ROI, and customer retention.
What are the benefits of green restaurants?
Many restaurants make gains from turning to green practices and certification. These accolades can help you attract new customers and retain the ones you have because more customers care about the environmental issues than ever.
In fact, in a study of consumers, more than two thirds (72 percent) said they intended to visit more restaurants that were green—more than those that did not have such certifications or practices to help the planet.
What are the downsides of eco-friendly restaurants?
Initially, restaurants may put off the process of going eco-friendly due to the perception of increased costs. Though there is an initial investment in the technology and changes needed to reduce food and energy waste, the benefits often outweigh any seeming flaws.
Cooking food and offering service in an environmentally friendly manner can mean spending more money in the beginning. This is true when restaurants and chains are just starting out their journey into sustainable efforts. Soon, they find the gains available to green restaurants through better promotion, retention, and cost-savings.
Why should restaurants be eco-friendly?
While there are many social and environmental reasons to turn an eco-friendly leaf, a sustainable restaurant has positive impacts on your return on investment (or “ROI”).
Initial findings from studies suggest that almost all (99 percent) of the restaurants who used food and waste prevention programs saw benefits for their bottom line. Being environmentally conscious can influence more than savings because more customers choose restaurants that responsibly use their food, resources, and utilities—as other market research indicates.