Incorporating sustainability strategies into your business
- Consumers are increasingly taking your commitment to sustainability into account when deciding where to dine out or order out
- Steps you can take to boost your “green credentials” include eliminating single-use plastics and choosing compostable packaging where possible
- You can also donate surplus food to those in need and source locally from ethical and sustainable food producers
- There are also several simple ways to cut down on your water and energy use
WITH CONSUMERS more educated and aware of food sustainability than ever before, it makes solid business sense to switch to sustainable foodservice business strategies. This means introducing practices which help minimise your business’ impact on the environment, such as minimising food wastage, introducing sustainable packaging, cutting down on water and energy consumption, recycling wherever possible, and looking at ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Research conducted internationally shows consumers are increasingly taking a commitment to sustainability into account when deciding upon their choice of dining out or ordering in. A recent survey in the UK found 83 per cent of participants expect hospitality brands to take part in sustainable practices and 41 per cent said they’d be willing to pay more for sustainable dining.
So how can you incorporate sustainability strategies into your foodservice business? Here are some initial steps you can take in your sustainability journey to boost your “green credentials”:
* ELIMINATE SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
In recent years we’ve seen a drive internationally to introduce legislation banning single-use plastics including shopping bags, disposable cutlery and plastic straws. While these initiatives were sidelined last year due to COVID lockdowns, they’re now back on the agenda – so it makes sense to look at ways to reduce your reliance on such items. Reusable alternatives are rapidly becoming available, such as products made from bamboo, birch, paper and glass.
* CHOOSE COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING WHERE POSSIBLE
Compostable packaging is designed to break down in a commercial compost facility in a short amount of time – it doesn’t mean that customers can just throw the packaging away, but it does mean it can go into a recycle bin. Examples include paper and PLA (polylactic acid) which is made from organic materials like corn starch and is ideal for storing hot food due to its high thermal conductivity. Compostable containers are a better environmental choice and they’re also better for your customers because they contain fewer chemicals, and they’re designed to release nutrients and add value to soil once they break down.
* DONATE YOUR SURPLUS FOOD TO THOSE IN NEED
This is a win-win as you’ll cut down on your food waste and help your local community at the same time. Local charities and food banks will often pick up your food donations for free, so you’ll save on disposal costs. There are even apps such as Ywaste [https://www.foodbank.org.au/ywaste/] which make it easier to connect directly with those in need, who use the app to find out when donated meals are available.
* SOURCE LOCALLY FROM SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL FOOD PRODUCERS
Taking this approach means you’ll be purchasing ingredients with lower carbon footprints and lower food miles, as well as from suppliers whose farming practices are less resource-intensive. Sourcing ethically and sustainably is good for the local community, good for the environment, creates a positive impression of your business and can also positively motivate employees.
* CUT DOWN ON ENERGY AND WATER USE
There are several simple ways of doing this, such as installing motion sensor taps which will only run when someone actually puts their hands under them. You could also conduct an energy audit on your premises and determine where you can reduce usage, such as by installing light timers, encouraging staff to switch off equipment at the end of the night, and choose eco-friendly energy providers. You can also upgrade your kitchen equipment to more eco-friendly alternatives, such as those with better energy star ratings.