The 7 Pillars of Restaurant Business Sustainability

Restaurant sustainability is a hot topic these days. There is a wide range of environmental issues in the restaurant business – from healthy menu choices, food waste, food packaging, and delivery to pollution. And today’s customers are adequately informed about good sustainability practices in the restaurant industry. Propagating your sustainability practices through your own restaurant website will create greater goodwill and positively impact your brand image. 

Restaurant sustainability has several positive effects on the business that also ripples out into the community. With restaurants adopting sustainable practices, the guests also receive an opportunity to live in a sustainable manner.

A global survey conducted by Oracle’s Restaurant Scene in 2022 states that a restaurant’s sustainability practices heavily influence customer buying decisions.

  • – 49% of customers prefer restaurants that offer biodegradable or recyclable food packaging.
  • – 42% of customers like to purchase from a restaurant that follows low or zero-emission during delivery or take-out. 
  • – 54% of customers are influenced by restaurants that take diligent efforts to lower food waste.
  • – 70% of customers find healthy choices on a restaurant menu important.

What Makes A Restaurant Sustainable?

Sustainability in restaurants is all about restaurateurs taking steps to minimize the impact that their restaurant has on the environment. 

This can be done in several ways – reducing the carbon footprint, and greenhouse gas emissions, switching over to renewable sources of energy, reducing food and other kinds of waste, and other sustainable, environment-friendly practices.

Why Should Restaurants Move Towards Sustainability?

The answer to this question lies pretty much in the question itself – sustainable. Only such practices can ensure that the future of the restaurant industry, the community, and the planet Earth is secure. 

There are still other reasons. An increasingly greater number of guests seek sustainable options when dining out. 

A 2018 study states that 83% of consumers like to patronize restaurants that follow environment-friendly practices.

Sustainability is a key practice that helps restaurants not only attract new customers but also retain existing ones and build robust brand loyalty. Restaurant owners need not get worked up by the costs incurred due to sustainable practices as they bring profit incentives too. The fact is  sustainability actually helps reduce waste and loss, thus boosting the restaurant’s bottom line.

7 Best Practices & Tips For Restaurant Sustainability

The easiest way to make the restaurant environment friendly is to make use of eco-friendly straws and containers. With takeaway and online orders gaining prominence, it is important to provide compostable options that do not harm the Earth. In case, you are a business offering samples, make use of wooden tasting spoons or forks that are biodegradable. 

Install Eco-Friendly Lighting 

Eight out of 10 restaurants use eco-friendly lighting, that is, the spaces are designed to make maximum use of naturally available light. Restaurants can also opt for LED bulbs that are environmentally safe. They last longer, do not contain mercury vapor and use 90% less energy than other standard bulbs. Skylights can also be installed to allow lots of natural light. 

Get Involved In The Compostable Straw Movement

The United States alone discards 500 million straws every day with more than 1.8 billion being thrown away each year. Straws must necessarily be provided for customers with motor issues or other disabilities. Restaurants must relinquish the popular disposable plastic straws and use metal or silicone straws to cut down on plastic pollution and save the environment.

Reduce Food Waste 

Restaurants must engage in wise ingredient management. For instance, if the mushrooms or tomatoes in the inventory are not good enough to be used directly, but are still fresh enough to be cooked and served, such ingredients should not be wasted. They could be used for a sauce instead of a salad. If a huge portion of the stock gets discarded on a regular basis, it is essential to relook the shipping routine and bring necessary changes to it. 

Use Paper Products Instead Of Plastic

Restaurants must completely get rid of plastic products. They must instead use paper straws, paper cups, paper dessert cups, etc. Several restaurants have also begun using recycled paper products in their restrooms.

Reduce, Reuse And Recycle

These three R’s are the best path to creating an eco-friendly restaurant. Every product and process that is not eco-friendly must be reduced from the scratch to prevent waste. Also, reusing everything they can is essential. Plastic shipping containers can be used as storage tubs. 

Join The Green Restaurant Association

By  joining the Green Restaurant Association, restaurants can let customers know that they care about the environment. Restaurants can surf the internet to discover various means by which plastics can be substituted with cardboard and paper and the ways to implement greener practices with environmentally safe products.

Maximize Today’s Technology For Restaurant Development

Restaurants can make use of data-driven technology to facilitate operations and achieve sustainability. A tracking system can be used as a tool to monitor stock and inventory levels. Using this, restaurants can maintain the quality and quantity of their inventory consistently. 

Restaurants can also use a digital checklist to simplify company audits and generate data. This data-driven tool enables restaurants to gain insights from the data, thus helping them understand how successfully they are able to build a sustainable restaurant.

How To Make Your Menu Sustainable?

There are several ways by which a restaurant's menu can achieve sustainability. Here are a few examples:

Update The Menu Seasonally

Restaurants can sync their menu with seasonal produce, that is, food grown at the same time of the year when it is consumed. This will help adapt the menu to the flow of nature. Purchasing the food item when its supply is at peak will reduce transportation costs as in-season food items are sold in close proximity to the place of production. Such produce will also remain fresh and enhance the taste of the dish.

Reduce Portion Sizes

Supersized portions might have become the norm for many Western countries. But, unfortunately, a major portion of the food ends up only in the trash. This can be reduced drastically by reducing portion sizes and using smaller plates. Even less food on a smaller plate will look full to customers. Making use of this optical illusion will result in immediate savings too. 

Shrink The Menu 

As far as a restaurant’s menu is concerned, less is truly more. The menu must be shrunk to a few sustainable standouts. When the dishes are few in number, chefs can hone their efforts and make every dish attain sustainability. A limited menu also allows customers to decide quickly on what to order.

Reduce Food Waste

While reducing portion sizes is one way to prevent food from getting to the trash, it is not the only way. A food audit must be conducted by the staff, that is, food waste must be sorted into different bins meant for spoiled food, kitchen scraps, customer waste, and so on. This helps to understand the quantity that is wasted through each means. Animal bones can be used to make stock and stale bread can be used to make croutons. Use the menu management system to locate unpopular dishes on the menu and remove unprofitable items. Also help guests take out containers so that they can take home the leftovers without wasting them.

Partner With The Community

The efforts of the restaurant towards sustainability should not be restricted to the four walls of the business. It must be extended to the larger community by teaming up with community garden programs or local farms. This can be done by creating a special menu made exclusively from the neighborhood garden produce or by hosting a cooking class at a nearby farm to let people know how the ingredients travel from the farm to the table.

Think Beyond Food

A fully sustainable restaurant menu alone does not end the task. Restaurants must think beyond food and also consider other ways by which the business and its practices are turned green overall. Restaurants can use reclaimed flooring, fixtures, and furniture instead of spending on new ones. Even if an upcycling opportunity is not available, one can use sustainable alternatives like swapping paper napkins for cloth napkins. 

This blog would have guided you well about the easiest, best, and most profitable ways to attain sustainability in the restaurant business. For more assistance in restaurant website building and digital marketing, get in touch.