Oct. 4, 2022

Sustainability and Restaurants

Some of most important new trends that small restaurants are integrating in their operations are:

  • Localization
  • Social responsibility
  • Transparency

In contrast, large restaurant chains find more difficult to adhere 100% to sustainability trends but still find ways to embrace these already popular practices into their business.  


The “farm-to-table” concept, although not new, is gaining more popularity. Restaurants patrons want their food to be fresh and free of pesticides and additives. In terms of food waste reduction, a one-location restaurant can follow sustainable practices easily because of the small scale of their purchasing. Large restaurant operations can still purchase locally but the risk is of not meeting the price point; produce only grown in certain parts of the country, as well as meat and other essential ingredients, limit options for restaurant chains and large groups.
These restaurants can anyway still have a positive impact on the local economy by recycling food waste. In addition, a composting program where waste is diverted, supports local growers even if products are not purchased directly from the local source.

Social Responsibility

Social responsibility is gaining momentum as well. Occasional or loyal diners want to know that companies take care of their employees and also of the local communities where they are based and operate their businesses.
In general, social responsibility has so many aspects to consider that many large corporates find difficult to connect and be involved with the people around them.
The larger is the restaurants group, the tougher is establishing a connection to local communities.
One of the most direct initiatives regarding social responsibility for any restaurant operation is to implement policies for a reduction in food waste. Today diners are aware of this matter. For this reason food waste recycling programs are becoming popular to show social responsibility.
Taking bold actions to reduce food waste is an impactful practice a restaurant can adopt to become more socially responsible. Food donation programs are also becoming very popular for restaurants to be directly connected to local communities. One matter that requires a high level of attention is that large restaurant operations are concerned of the liability issues associated with food donations; partnering with a company that understand the laws and protect businesses from liabilities is one way to solve the problem, as long as food is properly handled and the donation process is properly executed in all aspects regarding food safety.


“Going green” just to increase sales and claiming to do something so important without a proper follow-through can translate in negative reviews and therefore in a complete failure. An important part of the journey is collecting data related to the programs, so that a business can share environmental goals with customers, online on social networks and on site with detailed information regarding the programs available for guests to read. This practice also helps in building loyalty simply by doing the right thing.
These trends are not always easy to adapt to, but they can provide an advantage over competitors.

In the end, these current trends will still be around in the coming years; they will become more and more standard practices as in addition also regulations will support curbing food waste. In doing the right thing for the environment, the brand also will benefit as it will incorporate trendy sustainable and eco-conscious practices.

 As issues like climate change and plastic pollution are in the spotlight, diners are paying lots of attention to environmentally-friendly practices, food waste reduction, sustainability.
Quality of food and atmosphere, service, value for the money are still important parameters when choosing a restaurant, but now people are also considering Corporate Social Responsibility as a factor which helps in taking the right decision.
Implementing environmentally friendly practices into a restaurant business or starting a transformation will generate a positive effect, as customers will notice these initiatives, and they’re likely to become more loyal as a result.
There are many changes to consider, with some ideas difficult to execute because requiring some time and others easy to integrate in daily operations in order to reduce the environmental footprint and support sustainability practices

Reduce Water Consumption

Low-flow faucets or taps operating from a motion sensor can save thousands of liters of water;  water-efficient toilets and kitchen equipped with energy star-certified dishwashing machines, ice makers and steamers will help as well for sure

No Paper

Big blackboards, digital menus, more moments of interactions with guests are already replacing in part old style printed menus. Once a menu is in the restaurant's website, diners can be encouraged with proper signs to read it on their smartphones. A digital loyalty program with rewards points can easily replace plastic or paper cards in a program that in addition shows a digital receipt, easy to be accessed in the loyalty app

Support Local Farmers & Family Businesses

If a restaurant purchases locally, it gives a valuable contribution to reduce transportation impact and lower carbon emissions, compared to shipping or flying imported products. Another benefit comes from supporting small businesses that offer most probably fresh and organic produce, free of preservatives and other chemicals

No Waste

Food waste coming from the kitchen and from customers can be donated to local farmers for compost. Food left at the end of the day and not suitable for serving next day can be donated to charity organizations. Coffee grounds make great fertilizer, so eventually it can also be donated to guests to fertilize their gardens or to local farmers to fertilize their crops. Separate bins for food waste, glass, plastic, cardboard, and general rubbish should be in place

Use Less Energy

One of the easiest steps to take is replacing non-energy saving lightbulbs and monitoring on unnecessary overuse of air conditioning. Depending on the climate, a “1-hour on, 1-hour off” policy would literally cut in half the energy usage. Energy Star-rated microwaves, ovens, exhaust fans and all the appliances should be given priority when purchasing equipment

No Chemical-based Cleaning Products

When considering ways for eco-friendly solutions, we sometimes overlook an important area, which is cleaning. It is important to switch to environmentally friendly detergents and cleaning products free of chemicals. Eco-friendly hand soap for the restrooms can be purchased in bulk and should fill existing dispensers

Recycle Old Furniture and Décor

If considering to open a new restaurant, we should choose sustainable products as more as possible, including loose furniture. Reclaimed wood provides a trendy vibe as well as bamboo-based furniture. Table cloths and even cloth napkins can be washed and reused, just like real mugs, glasses and dishes to replace paper tissues and paper cups

Reduce as more as possible a negative impact on the environment

a) Strict “no car” delivery policy; only pedestrian or bicycle deliveries for nearby delivery
b) Encourage staff to come to work riding a bicycle and offer incentives to follow this program
c) offer a bonus to employees who share a car to work
d) No plastic straws!. Bamboo, metal or paper straws are recommended

Get Your Staff On Board!

To create the right culture at work, during operations someone needs to be in charge of sustainable practices; a proper Tailor Made Training should be created; these initiatives needs to be put in place only if and when the whole team share all values and everyone is on is on the same page, sharing also the common goal

Get Your Customers On Board!

Proper signs should make clear that the restaurant is embracing sustainable practices and customers should get involved as well through activities like donating 10% of sales to a good cause, or hosting events that ultimately increase awareness locking them into a commitment. Social media accounts to promote dedication to being an eco-friendly business should involve customers for ideas or feedback on how to bring in more sustainable techniques and methods

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