Maximizing resourcefulness has been on everyone’s mind since the coronavirus pandemic. “Budget well and spend money conservatively,” the lockdown mantra goes.
As dim as the circumstances surrounding the pandemic has been, there is a certain art in exploring creative ways of maximizing efficiency. Dire situations help us trim off the fat with precision so we can focus on the meat.
With our priorities shifting to a conservative mindset, now is a great time to explore eco-friendly practices for your restaurant. Even before the pandemic, the NRA published these statistics:
- 60% of consumers prefer restaurants that recycle
- 51% of diners will pay more to eat at an eco-friendly restaurant
As you can see, becoming more sustainable is a win-win situation in earning more business and increasing the bottom line. Wondering how to become a credible sustainable restaurant? Read on.
Restaurants are known to consume large amounts of water compared to other industries. Water is essential in everyday restaurant operations like cooking, steaming, washing, and sanitizing.
According to Epa.gov, water-efficient practices in commercial facilities can decrease operating costs by approximately 11% and energy and water use by 10 to 15%. Using less hot water especially will make a significant impact on decreasing energy bills.
Here is how to reduce water usage:
Low-flow, high-performing water systems
Perhaps the least expensive and easiest to upgrade are spray nozzles. After prewashing dishes, restaurants place them in dishwashers. If they are older dishwashers, they may have old pre-rinse spray valves that are highly inefficient. With high-performing, low-flowing nozzles, you can save gallons of water.
In addition to nozzles, there are also low-flow aerators which make for an efficient hand-washing installation. Install these in public bathrooms and kitchen sinks.
Efficient Cooking Processes
Boilers are superb at heat transfer and are typically energy efficient. The problem however is that they are very water-intensive. Up to 40 gallons of water per hour could be used. Closed system steamers are the solution here with recyclable condensation that doesn’t get lost in the air or down the drain.
To be an absolute all star in water conservation, you could also opt-in for air-cooled ice machines. They are as efficient as water-cooled machines and require less water.
Reduce Food Waste
According to the FWRA (Food Waste Reduction Alliance), 84.3% of unused food in American Restaurants end up as waste. In fact, food makes up for the most trash in U.S landfills. Not only is food waste bad for the environment, it also reflects restaurants’ lost profits. Fortunately, improving food waste is one of the best ways to increase restaurant profitability.
How to reduce food waste:
Improve Food Forecasting
The food waste problem mostly stems from ordering excessive amounts of food to avoid shortages. Putting in effort to track data on how often certain dishes get ordered will help with forecasting your supply.
Additionally, you could establish a strong system of using oldest items first to reduce food waste by spoilage.
Another idea is to use food seasonality to your advantage. Offer exclusive dishes during certain seasons to guarantee the freshest foods.
Finally, extra food can be repurposed into special sauces, soups, or any other creative way. Jimmy Johns for example offers their day-old bread for $1.
By recycling food and diligently auditing the amount of food wasted, restaurants will increase margins drastically. If diners are not finishing meals, portion sizes can even be reduced (protip: reduce plate sizes to keep the entrees appealing).
Restaurants are increasing recylcing cardboard, paper, plastic, metal, aluminum, and plastic. Recycling has become so common that 65% of restaurant operators now have recycling programs according to the NRA.
Not only is recycling cost-effective, but employees will be happy to take the trash out less!
How to improve recycling:
Sustainable Restaurant Supplies
Restaurants who aim to recycle should get more supplies that are recyclable. Biodegradable packaging, refillable bottles, serving drinks on tap, and returnable transit packaging for food increase restaurant sustainability.
Know Your Organic Waste
Did you know organic waste can be diverted from landfills and lower trash hauling fees? Organic waste is a valuable resource used for producing soil fertilizers. Generally, the following can be composted:
- Food scraps
- Fruit and vegetable waste
- Coffee grinds and filters
- Tea bags
- Compostable plates, cutlery, cardboard beverage sleeves
- Paper towels and napkins
Check waste hauler guidelines for more information.
Green Cleaning Supplies
There is an abundance of cleaning supplies that are more efficient and that don’t use hazardous chemicals like sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid. These cleaning products are cheap and super-effective which will save restaurants money in the long run.
SAFECID for example is a high-performing cleaning product safe for the user, equipment and environment. It is non-corrosive, 100% biodegradable, non-toxic, non-fuming, and lasts longer than sodium hydroxide. Versatile in use, it can used to clean ovens, fryers, grills, and grease traps faster.
Bleach has been a staple cleaning product for nearly everything. It however has negative effects on health and the environment. Bleach can be replaced with alternatives like Quats that are very cost-effective.
Use Less Paper Towels
Cut down on extra costs with paper towels by using microbial rags that can washed and reused.
Finally, restaurants can help the environment and lower utility costs by reducing energy consumption.
Energy Star Certified Appliances
Restaurants that have been operating for years may have outdated appliances that highly-inefficient. By upgrading with Energy Star certified fryers and dish washers, restaurants can save up to $1500 annually. Rebates are sometimes available for Energy Star certified equipment.
Restaurants can reduce their electricity bill by replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs and CFL bulbs. LED bulbs last up to 10x longer while CFL bulbs have a shorter life but are brighter than LED bulbs.
By being more efficient with heat, restaurants can see significant reductions with their power bill.
Restaurants may be using more heat than they need. According to NRA, 140 degrees Fahrenheit is mandatory and anything above should be reevaluated.
By making air dyers in bathrooms unheated, restaurants can use up to 80% less energy.
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