Taking responsibility for our ecological footprint is something everyone should do. That’s especially true for businesses. Implementing sustainable policies and green practices in restaurants is crucial as the industry is among the leaders in waste production and plastic pollution. However, there are eco-friendly restaurants as well. Many restaurant managers understand their role in the preservation of nature and shape their businesses around sustainability. In this article, we’ll give more details on the latest restaurant industry trends in the field of sustainability and environmental friendliness.
8 Ways to Make a Restaurant Sustainable
- Source local ingredients. Work with wholesale meat distributors and wholesale produce distributors that offer products made from local farms and businesses. That reduces the transportation costs and the adjacent environmental impact.
- Energy efficiency and water conservation. By switching to appliances and lighting with lower power consumption, a business can cut the cost of goods sold and simultaneously help the environment. The same is true for water. Eco-friendly restaurants can reduce their water consumption by implementing water-saving fixtures.
- Stop using single-use plastic. Find suppliers of plastic wholesale goods that also offer biodegradable options. Alternatively, switch to reusable options.
- Incorporate recycling and composting programs. Food scraps and organic waste can be composted and used to enrich soil. In addition, recycling glass, paper, and plastics is an important step to reduce waste.
- Use eco-friendly packaging and containers. Takeout containers and delivery bags should be made from environmentally friendly materials. Furthermore, businesses in the food and beverage industry should aim to minimize excess packaging.
- Waste reduction. Sustainable restaurants aim to reduce waste to a minimum. That can be done by combining recycling and composting programs and making changes to the menu.
- Sustainable cleaning practices. Purchasing eco-friendly cleaning products from restaurant supply distributors is a must for sustainable restaurants.
- Educate the staff, customers, and the local community. Business owners need to actively showcase the benefits of green policies to their staff and customers. That way, they sign up for these practices because they believe in them. Food service companies can also organize events to increase their brand awareness and demonstrate their commitment to restaurant sustainability.
Key takeaway: Sustainable restaurants have the opportunity to attract environmentally conscious customers while they reduce their ecological footprint. This can be done in various ways. From changing the menu to include more vegan options to limiting the usage of plastic goods.
Menus in Sustainable Restaurants
A restaurant that aims to reduce its ecological footprint should make sure that this is reflected in the menu. Let’s dive a little deeper into the main menu changes sustainable restaurants can implement.
Sustainably Sourced Food
Irresponsible farming and fishing practices have the potential to destroy entire ecosystems. That’s why restaurants should consider purchasing products that answer to seafood sustainability standards or organic farming regulations.
Reduced Food Waste
One of the easiest ways to reduce food waste is to improve the storage conditions and restaurant inventory management of your establishment. In addition, sustainable restaurants can consider reducing the size of their meals and portions.
Offer More Vegan Options
The environmental impact associated with meat production is well known. That’s why a lot of sustainable restaurants will offer a wide variety of vegan meals on their menu.
Focus On Seasonal Ingredients
Having well-developed seasonal menus means that customers can choose dishes that are made with fresh ingredients. These ingredients require far less energy to produce.
Have a Restaurant Garden
Maintaining an on-site garden means you know for a fact that the vegetables were grown organically. It will also help cut costs and will complement the restaurant’s composting program.
Limit the Menu
Lowering the number of menu items means the business can focus on perfecting the rest. It also allows chefs and other staff members to focus their efforts on making meals as sustainably as possible.
Pros and Cons of Restaurant Sustainability
Advantages of Sustainable Restaurants
- Environmental impact. Reducing waste and using sustainably sourced ingredients is a major reason for food service establishments to become more eco-friendly.
- Marketing. Becoming more sustainable has the potential to bring new customers to your business.
- Cost savings. Investing in appliances with high energy efficiency and reducing waste can lead to saving money in the long run.
- Regulatory compliance. Governments are introducing new legal requirements for restaurants and that trend is not likely to stop. Sustainable restaurants are much better prepared for these changes in regulations.
- Healthier dishes. One of the main components of sustainability is to reduce meat usage and offer meals made with organically sourced ingredients. That makes them healthier.
Disadvantages of Sustainable Restaurants
- Initial investments. Purchasing more efficient appliances and setting up a composting program means the business will have higher upfront costs that might take years to be worth it.
- Menu limitations. Shrinking the menu can have negative effects on the business.
- Challenges with distributors. Finding suppliers that have the same commitment to sustainability as your business might prove difficult.
- Higher prices and competitive pressure. Sustainable restaurants usually have higher prices compared to their competitors that don’t follow the same policies. That’s due to the fact that eco-friendly supplies and ingredients usually come at a higher cost. That can reduce the profits of a business.
- Permanent commitment. If a restaurant switches to being sustainable, that’s an important responsibility and it’s very hard to switch back.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sustainable Restaurants
Do you want to prepare your business for the expected regulations and green policies? Or maybe you wish to do your part in environmental preservation. Either way, the topic of sustainable restaurants is vast. That’s why we’ve shared some of the common questions and their answers below.
What Are the Common Alternatives to Single-Use Tableware for Restaurants?
There are two ways to replace polluting single-use goods in a restaurant. One is to introduce reusable options like reusable cutlery and tableware. The other way is to use biodegradable single-use items. Here are some of the main options in both fields.
- Wooden or bamboo goods. There are both reusable and single-use options on the market;
- Cornstarch and other biodegradable products. Goods made from wheat straw or cornstarch are both biodegradable and compostable;
- Metal or silicone tableware. The durability of these materials makes them perfect plastic alternatives for restaurants.
What Other Sustainability Initiatives Can Restaurants Take Part In?
Food service establishments can be the spearhead of eco-friendly initiatives in the local community. They can organize a variety of events and initiatives that will help the restaurant’s marketing and also educate people about the importance of sustainability. Here are some ideas.
- Organize “bring your own plate” events for on-premise dining;
- Partner with local and sustainable suppliers that share your company’s vision;
- Organize an open restaurant composting program for the benefit of the whole community;
- Organize family events related to growing organic vegetables and the benefits of saving the environment.
What Is the Most Sustainable Restaurant in the World?
In 2022, there was a competition in which Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa Maria (Spain) won the award for the world’s most sustainable restaurant. The restaurant’s menu is focused on marine diversity and sustainability. Ángel León, the restaurant’s chef is considered to be a true visionary in the restaurant industry. He invests a lot of his time in research and development. That makes them an inventor in the culinary arts. In 2009, Ángel León’s efforts in the field were rewarded as the EU made ingredients and food made from marine microalgae to be allowed for human consumption. Aponiente is one of the Michelin-star restaurants in Spain. The establishment has three Michelin stars.