According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, food service establishments generate a significant amount of wasted food and packaging. Between 4 and 10 percent of food purchased by food service operations in the US is thrown out before reaching the plate, and food and packaging/ containers account for almost 45 percent of the materials landfilled.
With restaurants throwing out “ugly produce,” and using plasticware, plastic straws, and non-biodegradable containers, the waste is wreaking havoc on marine life, contributing to 8 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, and the environment as a whole.
A recent study from The Nielsen Company showed that it is not the consumers that are against moving to a greener way of eating out.
From biodiversity, to environmental sustainability, to climate change; eco practices can have an impact and improvement on the planet
Both millennials (74 percent) and generation Z (72 percent) consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services. So, what is the problem?
The future of restaurants will need to transition to a more sustainable way of business. In particular, Quick serve restaurants (QSRs) need to begin thinking about a greener way to work. Because QSRs are a high-volume business, they depend on disposable containers, and have a huge potential to make a dent, and be trail-blazers for other business to transition to these practices. From biodiversity, to environmental sustainability, to climate change; eco practices can improve all these points- all while improving the health of one another, and the environment we live in.
There are so many things that restaurants can do to improve their eco-footprint. Bio-degradable containers made from either pulp or sugarcane, bio-degradable silverware, paper straws, paper sandwich bags, and separate recycling bins for customers and employees to use, all can help reduce the amount of plastic being used.
Give more thought to the cleaning chemicals used in a restaurant.
There are so many great eco-friendly cleaning products out there today, there really isn’t a reason to not use them, and help with a restaurant’s overall environmental sustainability practice.
About a third of a farmer’s crops never make if off the farm because of standards set by both retailers and consumers for produce to look perfect. Use that “ugly produce.” Just because they aren’t pretty, should not be the cause for more waste then necessary. Not only should this produce be used more in restaurants, but all the vegetable and fruit can be used. The stems, the skins and more offer great flavor and nutrients, and are often found at the bottom of the garbage pail. In reality, they should be used for juicing, or in salads, stocks, and sauces or some items could be used for baking.
Work with local farmers. Commit to sourcing locally, using farmers that are 150 miles or less from your restaurant, who also practice sustainability. And if it is possible, purchase your own farm. Here you can harvest your own food and maintain sustainable practices firsthand. Any produce that isn’t consumed can be composited and put back into the soil.
This will be and should be, not only the future of the QSR industry, but of all who breathe Mother Nature’s air. From biodiversity, to environmental sustainability, to climate change; eco practices can have an impact and improvement on the planet. We hope that the trailblazers will pave the way for overall eco-consciousness and, thus, improving our health and well-being, and the environment in which we live.