“Living in the United States of Food Waste” is how Bloomberg Businessweek defined the scale and cost of food wasted annually. America wastes 40 percent of its food supply at an estimated cost of $250 billion annually. It is a cost that is unsustainable in the low margin food service industry. Professional estimates are that a restaurant can achieve at least a 10 percent cost savings from implementing a food waste management system.
Restaurants are also the most energy-intensive commercial buildings in the United States. It is estimated that the restaurant industry consumes three times the energy of an average commercial building. Cooking equipment, refrigeration appliances, HVAC systems and lighting are restaurant cost centers and a major element of their environmental footprint. It is estimated that the bottom line profit for a restaurant that reduces energy costs by $1 is equal to selling $12.50 in food at an 8% profit margin.
Moms’ focus upon restaurant air quality
There is also an emerging awareness over chemical use by restaurants and their impacts upon indoor air quality led by Concerned Caregivers. The top five things these EcoAware Moms are using more of are:
- Chemical-free cleaning products
- Organic foods and beverages
- Plant-based cleaning products
- Water filters
- Resealable (re-useable) plastic bags
Health research has identified smoke, radon, formaldehyde, acrolein and particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter as key indoor pollutants that can threaten human health. Acrolein can be of particular concern for restaurants because this pollutant is primarily produced from cooking meats, some cleaning products and any kind of combustion. It is only a matter of time before Concerned Caregivers will have smart phones equipped with an app that monitors indoor air quality. When that day comes, the restaurants with effective ventilation systems and efficient appliances that also use non-toxic cleaning products and low VOC indoor-paints will have a measurable competitive advantage.
How to become a green certified restaurant
Proven steps for becoming a greener and more cost-competitive restaurant or food service company have been defined by business-oriented agencies and food service pioneers. One such agency is the Alameda County Green Business Program that has proven effective in helping a business cut their costs and win new customers through actionable steps that reduce environmental impacts. In the following exclusive video interview, Carolina Miranda with the Alameda County Green Business Program outlines the agency’s criteria for certifying a green restaurant, covering areas of energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, pollution prevention and waste water management.
Making money by reducing food waste
Waste costs money. In fact, a growing business trend being adopted by large companies like Walmart and regional businesses like SemiFreddi’s is to isolate the valuable components of a waste stream and then sell it to create a new revenue stream for the business. Dan Holzer, Quality Assurance Manager for SemiFreddi’s bakery, outlines in this exclusive video interview how his focus on waste has jumped his recycling rate to 75 percent and created a new revenue stream for the bakery by selling their food waste and day old breads:
LED lighting: Cutting costs, improving the dining experience
LED lighting is a technology every restaurant and food service company should investigate. The initial cost of LED lights are falling dramatically. They are still a higher per unit cost than incandescent and fluorescent lighting, but the operating cost savings of LED lighting offers paybacks often achieved in less than a year of operations. Plus, these lights have useful lives measured in years. In this video, Mike Williams, General Manager of Crogan’s Restaurant & Bar, shares his firsthand experience installing LED lighting and how it has cut his costs. Most remarkably, since installing these lights two years ago, not a single light has had to be replaced!
Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017