When it comes to greening, the foodservice industry is caught in a precarious position.
As one of the largest consumers of energy, restaurant operators are under increasing pressure to reduce consumption. Interestingly, environmental responsibility is taking on greater meaning, morphing into broader areas of social and ethical responsibility. Restaurateurs are being forced to re-examine how they run their entire operation. There’s no escaping the fact consumers are demanding more from the businesses they patronize, and as this trend continues to gain momentum, operators can expect the unexpected.
Of course, as everyone knows, the benefits of going green are numerous. After years of hearing the slogan Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, most of us have bought into the mantra and made it our common goal. But, there’s more to greening than just the three ‘R’s we’ve heard about for years. New restaurants are being built to LEED certification standards (Leadership in Energy and Environment-al Design) and third-party audits. It’s all about ensuring operators follow the right processes and make the best decisions. We’re slowly learning that not only is green the right thing to do, but by going green operators can put more money in their cash registers. Whether we’re talking about the usual energy efficiencies promoted in the kitchen through Energy Star-rated appliances, solar-thermal technology, LED lighting or heat sensors, there are numerous measures operators can undertake to make their restaurants more viable. In fact, according to the Chicago-based National Restaurant Association, more than 60 per cent of operators are investing in energy technology in 2012 and, it’s inspiring to know, many of the conservation measures being implemented by the industry are being driven by younger workers.
“According to the Chicago-based National Restaurant Association, more than 60 per cent of operators are investing in energy technology in 2012 and, it’s inspiring to know, many of the conservation measures being implemented by the industry are being driven by younger workers.”
In presenting our annual Green Leadership Awards for the past four years to restaurants and hotels that have made a strong environmental impact, it’s become clear the companies gaining the most traction are the ones that have realigned their mandate to fit a sustainability theme. Attention is being paid to all facets of the business — from how and where food is sourced, to how much waste is created and how it’s disposed, to how operators treat their employees and suppliers. For those who may not have invested in greening because it’s seemingly a daunting task or, because they don’t know where to start, it’s important to heed the advice of past winners of the Green Leadership Award. Past champions readily stress the importance of doing something, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem. The reality is every little step you take today will eventually help you go the green distance.
This month, as part of our Green Report, we’re happy to present the findings of a recent survey undertaken by the University of Guelph, and sponsored by F&H, highlighting how the foodservice industry compares to other business sectors in terms of sustainability. It’s a revealing look at the progress that’s been made and a blueprint for further change.
June 2012 Foodservice and Hospitality magazine features: