Restaurant Trends

Common practices in recent years along with a report by the National Restaurant Association reveal how restaurants and foodservice operators are taking huge strides towards reducing waste and conserving resources and are making groundbreaking choices and great progress.  

Isn’t Sustainability the Same as Being Green?

While there are certainly grey areas, it is important to remember that sustainability is a bit different than going green, as defined by World Atlas,

“Green refers to the activities that provide a more efficient use of resources and minimize the harmful impact on the environment when compared to similar products. Sustainable refers to activities that allow a specific problem to be solved without having adverse implications in the future.”

A Study on Sustainability

In 2018 the National Restaurant Association’s released a report called The State of Restaurant Sustainability in 2018. To learn more about how restaurants are tackling environmental protections, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) surveyed 500 restaurant owners and operators within their businesses. At the same time, 1,000 customers were surveyed to find out how restaurants can promote their sustainability practices to customers.

The report showed that foodservice operators of all kinds, from small, independent restaurants to mega restaurant chains, are trying to reduce their consumption of water and energy, and minimize waste creation with sustainability practices, while also connecting with environmentally conscious customers in the following ways:

Restaurants recycling food packaging and waste statistics:

  •       65% recycle cardboard and paper
  •       64% recycle fats, oils, and grease
  •       29% recycle aluminum or metal cans
  •       29% recycle rigid plastics
  •       26% recycle glass
  •       22% recycle flexible plastics, like cling wrap and bags

Restaurants saving energy and water with energy-saving equipment:

  •       79% use CFL or LED lighting
  •       61% use programmable HVA thermostats
  •       46% use EPA Energy Star rated refrigerators
  •       41% use EPA Energy Star rated freezers
  •       25% use EPA Energy Star rated dishwashers
  •       44% use low-flush toilets
  •       16% of businesses took advantage of energy rebates from electricity companies

(Energy Star is a federal program that helps businesses save money while protecting the environment with the best environmentally-sound technology.)

Operators using packaging and supplies made from recyclable materials:

  •       72% buy packaging and supplies that are made from recycled materials
  •       56% buy supplies certified as compostable

 Reducing food waste is a top priority for operators:

  •       Nearly one-half of operators track how much food waste is created
  •       About three in four restaurant operators monitor food waste daily; 76% of chain restaurants do compared to 66% of independent contractors
  •       One in five donates leftover food
  •       More than one in 10 compost food waste

Sustainability Attracts and Influence Guests’ Choices

The most environmentally-conscious collective is Gen Z, people born in the mid- ’90s and early 2000s. Sustainability practices are important to this age group, especial