What is sustainability?
Sustainability refers to all those practices deployed to meet the needs of the present generation, without compromising on the ability of the future generations to meet their own bespoke needs.
Sustainability in the Foodservice Industry
In the foodservice industry, sustainability is directly related to water and energy efficiency, use of green building materials, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), responsible procurement of sustainable food products with increased focus on local purchasing, food processing, packaging and selling as well as material recycling and waste management.
Over the last ten years, more and more companies in the foodservice business have realized the importance of adopting the right tools, resources and practices that would help to create increasingly sustainable products, reduce the usage of resources and improve recycling efficiency.
According to reports, at 35%, food preparation is the leading source of energy consumption in the F&B business, followed by HVAC at 28%, sanitation at 18%, lighting at 13% and refrigeration at 6%. While talking about sustainability, it is imperative to take the entire lifecycle of each product, process and operation into due consideration. The ultimate goal of all stakeholders should be ‘zero wastage’.
Can Your Business Become Sustainable?
Whether you are setting up your business from the ground up or adopting a ‘greener’
approach in your up and running F&B establishment, there are several strategies and steps that you can consider to strike a balance between economic, environmental and social profitability and move closer to your goal of achieving sustainability.
Decreased Use of Energy: A little planning can go a long way in curbing energy usage within your establishment. Better air circulation through carefully planned windows, digitally controlled air conditioners, water heaters or refrigerators, using more energy-efficient equipment and reducing product wastage by implementing a robust ‘farm-to-fork’ program to avoid wastage can help to cut down on your use of energy, reduce your business overheads and roll in better profits all at the same time!
Sustainable Design: A ‘green’ business design can pave the way for your business to become highly sustainable. Recycling is key to sustainability. Using recyclable building materials, installation of furniture made with reclaimed wood (bamboo or compressed wood), using recycled paper for signs, menus and stationery, or replacing non-degradable dinnerware with bio degradable utensils are a few ways to achieve environmental and economic sustainability in the foodservice business. At the same time, companies can also recycle empty plastic containers and bottles, paper bags, boxes, Styrofoam and plastic cutlery to left the stress off the environment and increase savings.
Grow Your Own Produce: Foodservice businesses, especially restaurants, can grow vegetables, fruits, herbs and wine in their own orchards or rain gardens to minimize their purchase, transport and logistics and storage expenditure, beautify local neighborhoods and prevent runoffs to local water resources.
Better Waste Management: Another important practice to bring about sustainability in the foodservice business is to minimize the production of ‘garbage’. Better waste management is deeply related to efficient inventory management. When restaurants estimate, buy and store exactly the amount of product supplies they need at a given time, they produce lesser waste. Moreover, they can also ask their suppliers to cut down on packaging and shipping of products and supplies. All this will help to reduce the volume of trash they create, besides saving exorbitant amounts of money!
Support the Local Economy: Support the local economy by purchasing seasonal fresh food directly from the regional farmers and communities. This helps to sustain farms, dairies, vineyards and other food producers, helps to save money on packaging, transportation and storage and increases customer satisfaction by offering ‘farm fresh’ food items.
Shift to Organic Food Products: Organic food is free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and helps to conserve soil and natural water resources. Although it tends to be a little more expensive, it is certainly healthier in every way!
Focus on Menu Selections: A menu that has fewer but very high quality food items not only results in better sales and improved customer satisfaction but also enables better cost tracking while purchasing food items and reduces wastage.
Sustainability is a collaborative process. A good synergy between foodservice business owners, local farmers and producers, designers and manufacturers can help to promote environment-friendly practices, sustainable production and operations and better profits.
We should strike a balance between social, environmental and economic parameters to redefines the way we do business, both today and in the future – and it works!
Through continued innovation, research and development and with the use of best-in-breed energy efficient technology and best practices, we should all design and drive sustainable foodservice businesses that not only benefit clients and end-customers but also have a tremendous positive impact on the environment!
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