What's at Stake
The American public is increasingly eating away from home, and there are close to a million dining facilities now in the US. Unfortunately, conventional production, transportation and preparation of food relies on dangerous chemicals, creates considerable waste, uses vast amounts of energy, and consumes ever-shrinking supplies of wild seafood. Consumers are clamoring for sustainable food choices, presenting a prime opportunity for companies that are able to deliver.
Fortunately, there are proven and cost-effective solutions. Dining managers now have an incredible opportunity to improve the environmental footprint of the food they serve and the restaurants they operate.
What Companies Can Do
To help dining managers address the most important environmental impacts of their operations, Environmental Defense Fund and Restaurant Associates partnered to develop the Green Dining Best Practices, a comprehensive set of cost effective, science-based recommendations for the food service and dining industry. Early testing of the best practices has shown measurable environmental improvement, improved customer satisfaction, and cost savings at participating facilities.
The Green Dining Best Practices fall into 12 key categories, including:
Sustainable Food Purchasing
- Meat, Dairy and Eggs – Increase low carbon menu options and choose products that are grown without the use of antibiotics designed for humans
- Produce – Design menus with a seasonal twist and choose produce grown organically
- Seafood – Select seafood that comes from eco-friendly fisheries and is safe for human consumption
- Food Transport – Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food transport by purchasing from local farms and using efficient modes of transport
- Coffee and Tea – Purchase products through rigorous certification programs that promote habitat protection and organic growing methods
- Bottled Beverages – Reduce the climate and waste impacts of bottled water and other beverages by promoting “bottleless” beverage options
Sustainable Dining Facility Operation
- Cleaning Chemicals – Use cleaning solutions approved by credible third parties and implement practices that limit the use of toxic cleaning chemicals
- Cooking and Refrigeration Equipment – Use energy efficient appliances in your kitchen and deploy an appliance scheduling program to turn off equipment when not in use
- Dishwashing and Water Use – Use low flow valves to control water use and purchase efficient dishwashers
- Facility Construction and Design – Choose efficient lighting and HVAC technology and upgrade new and existing facilities to green building standards
- Serviceware – Switch to washable, reusable serviceware and increase the recycled content and recyclability of “to-go” containers
- Waste and Recycling – Prevent waste from being generated in the first place and recycle or compost the rest
Take the No Net Cost Challenge
Environmental Defense Fund challenges companies to take the No Net Cost Challenge. This concept recognizes that some Green Dining Best Practices cost extra, but others lead to significant savings. By using the savings to pay for any added costs, companies can deploy the widest range of environmentally friendly best practices in their facilities – yielding significant environmental benefits and boosting customer appreciation at No Net Cost.
- Restaurant Associates: Green Dining Best Practices
- Bon Appétit Management Company: Seafood
- McDonalds: Packaging
If your company requires additional assistance in implementing the Green Dining Best Practices, a number of organizations are available to assist you in your efforts, including: