Sustainable suppliers build fair labor and environmental concern into their business. As such, they integrate the ethical with the ecological and make their livelihood by providing truly quality products that are designed for sustainable, responsible consumption by other businesses—restaurants included.
Choosing an environmentally sound and sustainable supplier involves taking a close look at your own motivations and intentions within the eco-friendly forum. You should make careful selection of sustainable suppliers for relationships by considering the quality of the product, environmental impact, green packaging and labeling, as well as the price attainability and potential profit of using the product.
In the end, to partner with sustainable restaurant or wholesale suppliers, you’ll need to understand your own restaurant business plans, management practices, and vendor management requirements before engaging them.
Use this guide to choosing sustainable suppliers to learn how you can build a greener and more eco-friendly business by asking tough questions and taking a hard look at your own restaurant.
Key Takeaway: Sustainable suppliers and sourcing contribute to stronger businesses, ones that are ready to adapt to the requirements of responsible consumption among consumers, employees, and business leaders.
What Are Sustainable Suppliers?
Sustainable suppliers are basically companies committed to fair protection of the environment in their practices of labor and sourcing. As part of a more responsible, sustainable supply chain, they integrate the ethical with the environmental to create more successful business models that can withstand changes in consumer attitudes and demands.
One key aspect of the sustainable supplier (or sustainable sourcing) will involve choosing the right materials, selling green products, and offering local services in a manner that soundly protects social and environmental interests. For these businesses to stay sound—both financially and ecologically—they usually consider their products within a larger context: first themselves, then their community, national industry, and the planet as a whole.
Sustainable suppliers and sourcing constantly strives to offer more than decent products and working conditions for those who produce them. By and large, these companies are focused on quality throughout their dealings. From employees to the environmental issues they help address, the sustainable supplier usually cares about issues like inequality, poverty, and injustice that can be built into traditional, more disruptive supply chains.
Characteristics of Sustainable Suppliers
Most eco-friendly and labor-positive suppliers or sources are recognizers for their great service to the performance of businesses they partner with. By making restaurants greener and more cost-conservative, these suppliers can create managed supply chains based on lean principles.
While serving environmental and social goals, they also focus on providing the best product possible. This means that sustainable suppliers are largely a crowd based on market resilience and internal agility. In other words, they are ready to rapidly evolve with their partners’ and customers’ needs to protect their procurement lifecycle.
Finally, sustainable supply chains and sources think about the entire life of their products—from how they are created, from what materials, and for what final result. These all play a part in the ultimate decision on how to make, store, ship, and distribute the well-designed products under their inventory control.
Choosing Sustainable Suppliers: Questions to Ask
To find suitable partners for sustainable practices in restaurants, you should first look at your own sustainable goals and translate them into supplier criteria. Ask yourself this question: “What will my suppliers need to successfully manage to partner with my restaurant?”
Among the needs for sustainable suppliers, you should be looking for every opportunity to highlight and enhance your restaurant's environmental performance, lowering its impact. So, it’s natural to consider the loyalty of your most committed suppliers first and proceeding to new ones.
Here are seven helpful lines of questioning for choosing sustainable suppliers for your restaurant:
- Do you currently use Green Supply Chain Management (GSCM) practices?
- If not, are you willing to adopt more eco-friendly practices?
- How are you committed to reducing waste through your processes?
- Where do you source your raw materials and why?
- How do you reduce transportation emissions while delivering goods?
- In what ways does your product lead to a healthier, happier planet?
- Finally, how is price and quality stable and sustainable with you?
In some cases, seasonality will loom large for suppliers who sport sustainable systems. Their inventory management matters. As such, you should consider their practices like labeling and sourcing more deeply.
You’re also encouraged to be willing to make adjustments to your business practices as a restaurant to fit with your sustainable efforts and the supplies on offer from your green partners. At the same time, vendor negotiation should be available to you from any willing and responsible business partner.
Other Green Policies for Restaurant Supply
While choosing sustainable suppliers, you should consider each one as an opportunity to adopt new cost- and waste-saving strategies. One effective approach may be the use of sustainable containers since a large majority of business may come from takeout and delivery orders.
On the other hand, you may find creative uses for kitchen waste through composting and recycling of natural materials. In addition to this, energy-efficient equipment can provide a way to reduce energy costs as well as carbon emissions.
Ultimately, in green practices, you are striving to create a culture of responsible consumption. Some natural things to consider are then seasonal menus, meatless alternatives, and carbon-neutral delivery. Even if you source from nearby farms and sustainable suppliers, you should consider the waste profile inherent in any part of the supply chain and seek to offset it.
As you work to build a sustainable restaurant, you’ll likely find that the easiest way to contribute to a greener business is to keep things healthy, natural, and local. This is not only attractive to the modern-minded customer, but it also encourages more thoughtful practices for yourself and your choice of suppliers.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sustainable Suppliers for Restaurants
Find out what makes a supply chain or supplier more attractive to the green, eco-friendly restaurant, and explore some of the more common questions restaurants have about possible options.
You’ll see how sustainable supply chain management can bring social, economic, and environmental benefits over and above traditional approaches to restaurant supply.
How to increase a restaurant’s sustainable suppliers?
To boost sustainability, many restaurants seeking sustainable suppliers should consider a meatless menu (or plentiful options) as well as contributing to growing their own produce. In the short-term, they can focus on easy sustainability trends like plastic alternatives and compostable disposables to reduce waste.
To go further, these restaurants will build existing relationships with suppliers who engage with Green Supply Chain Management (GSCM). This will almost immediately make gains for environmental performance in a restaurant as it reduces waste across the entire supply chain.
What are eco-friendly restaurant supplies?
Mostly, eco-friendly restaurant suppliers include products for food service that are—by design—made to minimize environmental impact. Some products that may immediately come to mind include plastic alternatives and compostable tableware such as plates, bowls, and cups.
Sustainable, reusable cutlery can also be useful in reducing the eco-impact of a restaurant by choosing materials that break down naturally. Ultimately, everything from the choice of cleaners to the selection of hot food containers will matter in an eco-friendly restaurant’s decisions for sustainability.
How to select and develop sustainable suppliers?
To choose and grow with a sustainable supplier, the restaurant must align with sustainability goals and strategies overall. This entails understanding their own sustainable implementation at restaurants before engaging with specific partners to reduce their carbon footprint.
Beyond this, eventually keeping their restaurant menu mostly seasonal will cut down on food supply waste and contribute to the flavor of sustainability. Restaurants can lastly ensure that their water and energy usage remain lowered while embracing compositing and recycling programs alongside eco-friendly packaging and other policies.