• How can restaurants be more sustainable?

    June 1, 2022 • GUIDES, LIFE

    How can restaurants be more sustainableSustainability is essential in all industries, but it’s easier for some than others. With small profit margins, restaurants are often forced to purchase cheaper ingredients from suppliers and growers that are cutting corners and practising unethical and unsustainable approaches to agriculture.

    But if you’re researching how can restaurants be more sustainable, you’re looking for possibilities, and the truth is many establishments are committing around the world. And we’re not going to lie to you; it takes perseverance and passion for the earth that we’ve inherited – we’d like to thank you for taking the first step toward making change.

    Here’s what we’ll be answering in this article:

    • What is a sustainable restaurant?
    • How can restaurants be more sustainable?
    • What are sustainable foods?
    • Why is sustainability important for restaurants?

    What is a sustainable restaurant?

    A sustainable restaurant is compliant with all food and safety regulations whilst prioritising practices that don’t negatively impact the environment. A sustainable restaurant must consider how it sources ingredients, the impacts of transit, its wastage systems, energy efficiency, packaging, and advocacy.

    Let’s break down the elements of a sustainable restaurant that owners must consider if they are looking to create a sustainable strategy.

    How can restaurants be more sustainable?

    You can segment a sustainable restaurant into 3 crucial elements; Sourcing, Materials, and Practices.

    Starting with one element of the business is a great way to start; the last thing you want is to overwhelm the staff and accidentally let it impact business as usual. Focus on one of the sustainable attributes of a restaurant that you believe the establishment really lacks in a maximising effort to correct poor practices.

    But let’s look at the 3 elements and how restaurants can be more sustainable.

    Sourcing Ingredients

    Sourcing Ingredients

    It’s well known that kitchens are often extremely busy, sometimes understaffed, and, maybe less commonly known, operate with small profit margins due to the cost of food and inflation. With this in mind, it makes sense that some establishments and chefs create a set and forget menu that operates consistently year-round. But the fact is, this is unsustainable.

    Seasonality

    When it comes to seasonality, being flexible in menu planning is essential. Utilising ingredients that are in abundance will reduce supplier wastage.

    Some sustainable restaurants adjust their menus weekly based on what local produces have pulled up from the veggie patch that week! This is an extreme version of having a seasonal high rotation menu which requires much organisation and, not to mention, innovation!

    A good level to aim for is a spring, summer, autumn, and winter menu change to ensure you are ordering ingredients that are within their life span.

    Kitchen Garden

    Kitchen gardens are really popular at the moment. Partly because the margins you can make on growing your own food are much larger because you are skipping the middle supplier, and secondly because it is much more sustainable, and here’s why.

    • You’re saving on transport which effectively is saving on fuel emissions.
    • You’re growing new plants which contributes to decarbonising the planet.
    • You’re making better profit margins that can be invested into focusing on other sustainable practices
    • Patrons hear and talk about your fresh ingredients which is advocacy for being a sustainable restaurant that could, in time, encourage others to do the same.

    Materials and Packaging

    Many materials used for packaging or general everyday use can have a dramatic impact on the environment, but there are alternative products that you can utilise that have little to no impact if used and recycled correctly.

    You are probably aware of the unsustainable products and materials in the establishment but here is a list just in case there are a few you were unaware of. We’ll also include the alternative and sustainable products you could use.

    Bin Bags > Bio Degradable Plastic Bags

    By reducing the contribution to landfill that takes hundreds of years to decompose, such as bin bags, a restaurant can increase its sustainability.

    Un-reusable Plastic Containers > Food Storage Containers

    For storing food prep, recyclable and durable food storage containers are a great alternative to disposable plastic containers.

    Plastic Bags > Reusable Shopping Bags

    It’s something you hear constantly but a quick trip to the shops to top up par levels, and you’ve forgotten to bring a bag! Having a stash of reusable bags ethically sourced and made can significantly reduce your restaurant’s footprint.

    Plastic Straws > Reusable Straws

    Plastic straws are a no brainer. Single-use, small plastics like straws are a major threat to ocean life. Reusable straws are easy and a lot more profitable in the long run so long as they are well looked after.

    Plastic Wrap > Reusable Food Wrap

    Chefs are renowned for using miles upon miles of glad wrap, the intentions are understandable. They want to keep produce fresh and fridges clean, and sometimes all it takes is to be shown an alternative solution. At Biome, we have collected a range of sustainable suppliers that have reusable food wrap options so you are saving money and increasing the restaurant’s sustainability factor.

    Disposable Cutlery > Wooden Catering Goods

    40 billion plastic utensils go into landfill every year. So why not use something a little more eco-friendly! It’s the small (and really big) things that construct a sustainable restaurant.

    Sustainable Practices in the Restaurant

    Sustainable Practices in the Restaurant

    Most people are familiar with the usual practices that contribute to a sustainable restaurant as the common ones apply to home life as well.

    Sustainable practices in a restaurant include;

    • Recycling
    • Composting
    • Avoiding disposable plastics
    • Using local producers
    • Using ethically sourced and sustainable products
    • Using an oil recycling service for fry oil
    • Creating a kitchen garden
    • Using biodegradable takeaway packaging
    • Digital menus
    • Work commute
    • Use induction/electric, not gas
    • Use electric heaters in the restaurant, not gas
    • Purchase sustainably made uniforms
    • Complete an Energy Consumption Audit
    • Create a Sustainable Strategy
    • See an Environmental consultant

    What are Sustainable Foods?

    Sustainable foods are created, grown, produced and packaged in an ethical fashion that doesn’t omit waste contributing to long-lasting landfill, unrecyclable materials or harmful agricultural practices.

    Looking for information and products that encapsulate sustainable foods? Head to Biome and see what’s on offer! – Sustainable Foods

    Why is sustainability important for restaurants?

    Like most industries, there are many elements that are considered unsustainable in hospitality. Sustainability for restaurants is incredibly important in order to preserve their longevity.

    If all restaurants were to neglect the aim to become sustainable, the repercussive impacts on climate change might lead to an environmental landscape that is impossible even to grow vegetables. While it may not happen in our lifetime, it’s our children and grandchildren that will face such grave circumstances and issues.