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Sustainabilty Article Truitt Bros S


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Great Article on Sustainability for Restaurants

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Sustainabilty Article Truitt Bros S

  1. 1. SPECIAL REPORT Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating By Annemarie Mannion Contributing writer Value through Sustainability Sustainability may be the latest buzzword, but implementing its best practices can generate value for an operator and boost a restaurant’s bottom line. This special report demonstrates how a restaurant can By Annemarie Mannion take care of business while caring for the environment. Contributing writer Sponsored by: W hether they are purchasing sustainable agricultural and food-handling wind credits, recycling fryer practices. oil or buying sustainably grown produce, restaurant operators pursuing a Operators who take pride in treating people healthy future are putting sustainable prac- and the planet well believe these practices tices in place to benefit their employees, will ensure that their companies will flourish consumers and the planet. They are at the for years to come. So firm is the industry’s forefront of a principle-driven way of do- ing business that they predict will have a positive, long-lasting impact on the envi- ronment and their businesses. Operators are increasingly seeking to cre- ate value for their customers by using the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit as a measure of success. The social and environmental impact of business practices are becoming as important as the effect those practices have on earnings. “There’s increasing acknowledgement in business circles and among investors that companies that are proactive, that are thoughtful about their management of human and environmental resources are usually well-managed companies positioned for profit and growth,” said Matthew Buck, assistant director of the Portland, Ore.-based Food Alliance, a nonprofit organization More and more restaurant operators are putting sustainable practices in place that provides third-party certification of to benefit their employees, consumers and the planet. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 1
  2. 2. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability commitment to sustainability and social responsibility that the National Restaurant Sustainability checklist for restaurateurs Association has launched “Conserve: Solu-  Reduce resource consumption through conservation tions for Sustainability,” an initiative designed and recycling. to support the nation’s nearly one million restaurant and foodservice locations as  Reduce use of toxins and hazardous materials. they become more eco-friendly.  Purchase sustainable products.  Create a company plan for sustainability. The Conserve Web site is designed to educate restaurateurs on how taking small  Communicate a sustainability message. steps over time — or bigger steps for those  Provide safe and fair working conditions. who choose to do so — can make a differ- ence for the future of the planet, as well as  Continually improve practices. be positive for business. able agriculture involves producing food And often overlooked when talking about using methods that are healthy, do not harm the value of sustainability is the idea that the environment, respect workers, are what is good for the planet is good for the humane to animals, provide fair wages to body. A healthy business thrives with healthy farmers and support farming communities. customers, and the concept of food with- out pesticides, hormones or other added Sustainability also includes buying food chemicals, produced in a manner that locally where possible. respects the environment, evokes an image of health in the minds of those customers. But while the easiest option may be to look at purchasing local products, local does not The checklist provided in this special report always mean sustainable. There is always outlines what companies are doing to pro- the possibility that local products could be mote sustainability and social responsibility. produced using pesticides, chemical fertil- Operators who follow these practices want izers, hormones or other nonsustainable to build brands that customers recognize methods. for their commitment to the environment and the value and quality of their products. If a producer is advertising that its food was raised locally, GRACE recommends Bring sustainable products taking the time to ask questions such as to the menu “Do you know how these animals were raised?” or “Do you know the name and The first and most obvious step for restau- location of the farm where this product rant operators looking to incorporate sus- was grown?” tainability into their operation is to add items to the menu that are grown, processed Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Pizza Fusion, and produced in a sustainable fashion. which operates restaurants in locations ranging from New Jersey to California, According to the nonprofit Global Resource evaluates each of its suppliers for their sus- Action Center for the Environment, sustain- tainability practices as well as quality. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 2
  3. 3. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability Embrace sustainable products  Purchase food locally when possible.  Seek natural, pesticide-free products with few ingredients and minimal packaging.  Partner regionally with sustainable suppliers for products not available locally.  Foster relationships and communicate with vendors.  Evaluate suppliers for their sustainable practices.  Use recommendations from a third-party certifier to find sustainable vendors. The company’s growth speaks to its success. beans it serves come from organic farms. Since its founding in 2006, the chain has opened 21 restaurants and plans to open “We are changing the way the world thinks 75 more in the next few years. about and eats fast food,” said Steve Ells, Chipotle founder, chairman and CEO. “By “When a customer comes and shops at making our food with great quality ingre- Pizza Fusion, they’re not just supporting an eco-friendly restaurant,” said Eric Haley, Pizza Fusion’s vice president of communi- cations. “They’re supporting a whole supply chain of businesses that are eco-friendly and doing the right thing for the environment.” And Chipotle Mexican Grill, which serves only naturally raised chicken at its more than 900 restaurants around the country, began working with suppliers in 2002 to identify and develop a network of farms that could help it achieve its goal. All of Chipotle’s naturally raised chicken, pork and beef come from animals that are humanely raised, never given antibiotics or added growth hormones (or drugs that act like hormones) and fed a pure vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. In addition, the cheese and sour cream the company serves are made with milk from cows that are not treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth It’s important to ask the right questions to ensure your hormone). And 35 percent of all of the supplier is offering sustainable products. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 3
  4. 4. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability dients, including naturally raised meat, we are not only satisfying our customers with great-tasting food, but raising the bar for an entire industry.” But how can operators tell if their suppliers are offering sustainable products? With an increasing number of companies making claims about their sustainability efforts, it’s often difficult to tell. An independent audit from a third-party certifier like Food Alliance is one way to measure the depth of a company’s system- atic sustainability practices. “Third-party certification provides your highest and best assurance that the claims that are being made about the product and companies are in fact true,” Food Alliance’s Buck said. Reduce resource consumption through conservation and recycling Burgerville’s recycling programs, such as converting Recycling makes sense for companies that used frying oil to biodiesel fuel, are in place at all 39 of its restaurants. want to protect the planet, connect with customers and reduce costs. Operators who recycle are meeting the needs of today’s environmentally conscious consumers and “At 22 of our restaurants, we are doing are a step ahead when it comes to welcom- composting in the back of the restaurant, ing future generations of diners. and at four of them, we are composting in both the front and back of the restaurant,” “The generations coming up are completely said Jack Graves, chief cultural officer for recycling-focused. Restaurants that want Burgerville. their brand to be relevant for the next gen- eration are recycling,” said Darren Trista- Graves said his job is to be a steward of the no, executive vice president with restau- company’s mission — “To Serve with Love” rant industry consulting firm Technomic. — and to track how well its sustainable practices are accepted by the community. Burgerville, a QSR based in Vancouver, Wash., recycles at all of its 39 restaurants Judging by customers’ willingness to pitch and does composting at some. in, composting is a hit. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 4
  5. 5. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability “Today, we’re following a similar path in Minimize consumption the way we design and build restaurants, looking for more environmentally friendly  Set up or expand recycling programs building materials and systems that make for each store or site. our restaurants more efficient.”  Consider composting on-site.  Examine practices to find ways to Reduce use of toxins and reduce waste. hazardous materials  Consider using biodegradable, compostable packaging and Reducing the use of toxins and hazardous serviceware. materials is endorsed by operators that want to provide a safe, healthy environ- ment for their workers and their diners. “Guests like it so much that sometimes they even help us sort. There is a large contin- At both Burgerville and Hot Lips Pizza gent of people who see value in protecting in Portland, Ore., only all-natural, biode- the environment,” Graves said. gradable cleaning products are used. The practice is in keeping with Burgerville’s And reducing energy consumption is a mission, which Graves said means being major part of any restaurant’s sustainability kind in every possible way, including not efforts. Efforts can be as simple as replacing harming the environment. incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs or as complex as generating power “These cleaners don’t pollute. They go into on-site. the waste treatment plant as natural as possible,” Graves said. In October 2009, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced plans to install solar panels on Using natural products is also a way to approximately 75 Chipotle restaurants over respect employees, said Hot Lips co-owner the next year. In all, Chipotle has committed David Yudkin. His company eliminated to panels that will produce 500 kilowatts of soap with harsh chemicals when staff electricity, making the company the largest members complained it gave them rashes. direct producer of solar energy in the res- taurant industry. Hot Lips, however, also is keeping toxic The amount of power produced through the solar program will eliminate more than Avoid hazardous materials 41 million pounds of CO2 emissions.  Evaluate operations to determine the use of toxins or hazardous materials. “Our effort to change the way people think about and eat fast food began with our  Replace harsh soaps and other cleaning products commitment to serving food made with with natural ones. ingredients from more sustainable sources,  Remodel or build green, including using low-VOC and that same kind of thinking now influ- paints or recycled materials. ences all areas of our business,” Ells said. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 5
  6. 6. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability chemicals out of its restaurants on a larger scale by reducing the need for chemicals Incorporate sustainability for sanitation with its choice of building into the mission materials. For instance, vinyl tile flooring has been replaced with natural tile or bare  Craft a mission statement that reflects concrete floors, which are easier to clean your company’s sustainability goals. with water and soap.  Share your mission statement with employees, diners and vendors. “Our design philosophy is to avoid adding  Seek ways to be sustainable that also layers of materials. We also use low-VOC will generate revenue. (volatile organic compound) paints and adhesives in the construction phase,”  Remember that being sustainable is a Yudkin said. constantly evolving journey. Yudkin’s emphasis on eliminating VOCs is supported by information provided by the Family-style lunches at Hot Lips reflect the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which company’s mission to “celebrate humanity reports that the health effects of exposure through rich culinary traditions and work to VOCs can include eye, nose and throat with others to find new, sustainable ways irritation; headaches, loss of coordination of doing business.” and nausea; and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Some VOCs Burgerville’s mission, “To Serve with Love,” can cause cancer in animals; others are sus- sounds simple. But the impact of this ob- pected or known to cause cancer in humans. jective is powerful and far-reaching. “We use it in every decision we have to Create a company plan for make,” Graves said. responsibility Serving with love was considered when the The pursuit of social responsibility among company decided to purchase wind energy restaurant operators is a mission fueled by credits for all the electricity its restaurants passion and one they do not expect to end. use. It also was considered when the com- The process of improving sustainability prac- pany decided to convert used fryer oil into tices is a work in progress that evolves as biodiesel fuel. Graves estimated the restau- technology changes and offers new ways to rants convert about 4,500 gallons a year. reduce operators’ environmental footprints. “It’s part of the mission of how we can “We realize this is a journey that’s pretty serve the community with love. Those four much going to take our whole working words are pretty powerful,” he said. lives. As technology changes, we find new ways to make a difference. It’s a progres- sion,” Yudkin said. Communicate a sustainability message Planning for responsibility starts with a mis- sion statement. Actions exemplify the words. Restaurant operators need to let consumers © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 6
  7. 7. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability know about their sustainability practices. deliver the sustainability message. Tristano said delivering an environmen- tally friendly message to consumers makes “There is a big educational aspect to the diners feel good about choosing to eat in business. We educate customers on our these restaurants. organic and locally grown products,” Haley said. “Our employees are the gateway for It also increases consumer confidence in that information. They interact with the their products. When it comes to making customers and are the face of the business.” diners aware of their socially responsible causes, operators sometimes find them- Information on practices also is included selves cast in the role of educators. on menus and wall signs, and it is incor- porated into community outreach efforts. Pizza Fusion relies on its employees to The restaurant holds Organics for Kids Pizza Fusion considers it a part of its purpose to educate consumers on sustainability, such as this session for children. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 7
  8. 8. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability classes to teach children the importance of eating organic. Convey sustainability goals to customers Burgerville also reaches out to the com-  Train employees to be ambassadors of the brand by munity. delivering the sustainability message to diners.  Create signage and menus that explain sustainable “We do a lot of local speaking engagements,” practices and benefits to the environment. Graves said. “And in our restaurants we  Plan community outreach meetings and other events have pamphlets at the point of purchase, to convey the sustainability message. and we have signs at our drive-thrus.”  Be an example by using hybrid delivery vehicles, Some messages are more subtle than a energy-saving appliances and other green products. sign. Customers may see that their pizza is delivered by a hybrid vehicle or notice that low-flow water faucets are installed in a Truitt Bros. Inc., a Food Alliance-certified restaurant’s bathrooms. producer of shelf-stable foods for the food- service industry. “The end game here is a brand that really stands for something … “We always try to tell the customer what that has to mean something honestly in the we do different, why we do it and how it is minds of the consumers and the customers of value to them,” Haley said. we deal with.” Operators need to be careful about the claims they make regarding their sustain- Provide safe and fair ability efforts, however. “Greenwashing,” working conditions or making inflated claims about an opera- tion’s sustainability practices, is becoming It may seem obvious, but one way to reduce a major problem in the marketplace. employee turnover is to offer a safe environ- ment in which employees feel respected Savvy consumers are likely to see through and are treated fairly. Creating a positive such claims, which will inevitably lead to company culture leads to happy employees them taking their business elsewhere. and happy customers. “Ultimately, our customers will find out if “Staff who love the brand, use the brand we’re not being ethical and honest in every and brag about the brand can become your respect,” said Peter Truitt, president of best brand ambassadors,” Tristano said. “The end game here is a brand that Yudkin said Hot Lips invests heavily in training its 1,150 employees to ensure they really stands for something … that understand the company’s goals. One re- has to mean something honestly in sult is a lower employee turnover rate. the minds of the consumers and the customers we deal with.” “In an industry where the turnover rate is in the three digits, our turnover rate is usually — Peter Truitt, president, Truitt Bros. Inc. between 30 and 50 percent,” he said. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 8
  9. 9. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability That rate is impressive considering statistics provided by People Report, which tracks Extend sustainability goals the foodservice industry. It reported that to the workforce the average turnover rate for all unit-level employees in 2007 was 161 percent.  Hire employees who embrace your sustainability practices. Benefits are another concern for workers  Train employees to better understand in the food industry. People Report found and execute sustainable practices that only 8 percent of companies offer lon- successfully. gevity bonuses for hourly workers and that profit sharing is offered to just 5 percent of  Create a positive company culture. part-time workers, 11 percent of full-time  Provide employee benefits. hourly workers and 16 percent of assistant and general managers. costly, Haley said, Pizza Fusion lets fran- Burgerville has found that increasing chisees decide whether to seek the U.S. benefits pays off in employee loyalty. Two Green Building Council certification for years ago, it began providing comprehen- its buildings. The company does build its sive health benefits. The monthly cost for restaurants to LEED specifications, which health care is $15 for an individual, $30 assures employees and customers that the for a couple and $60 for a family plan. As structures are as green as possible. a result, the company reduced its turnover rate from 128 percent to 52 percent. To be sure its practices are environmentally friendly, Burgerville has invited consultants “That’s changed the morale in our compa- such as The Good Company to evaluate its ny,” said Graves. “Employees feel respected, operations. The firm helps clients measure, and they know they are important to us.” manage and market their social and envi- ronmental performance. Continually improve practices “They’ve pointed out opportunities to make a difference,” Graves said. “You can fool There are many ways to evaluate the effec- yourself or think you’re doing the right thing, tiveness of sustainable practices. Third-party but you’re not. It helps you better know how certification from an organization such as you’re contributing to the community.” the U.S. Green Building Council or the Food Alliance is seen by operators and Graves said the company also evaluates consumers as a seal of approval. Certifica- practices for their impact on the bottom tions can increase consumer confidence in line. the product, validate the value of operators’ practices and possibly point out ways in Converting fryer oil to diesel fuel, for in- which operators can improve. stance, saves the company $50,000 a year. Because LEED (Leadership in Energy and “We won’t take on any of these initiatives Environmental Design) certification is unless they contribute to the bottom line,” © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 9
  10. 10. Tips for Restaurateurs: Creating Value through Sustainability Keep striving for improvement  Seek third-party certification of sustainable practices.  Contract with restaurant industry consultants to evaluate practices and recommend ways to improve them.  Track energy use and perform periodic self-audits of sustainable practices.  Evaluate how sustainable initiatives impact your bottom line.  Publicize third-party certifications to build consumer awareness and confidence in the brand. he said. “If you’re doing it at a loss, then “In general, people who work and eat at pretty soon you’re operating at a loss.” these restaurants are going to feel good about the relationship,” Tristano said. Hot Lips tracks its energy use, not only in “If you have a positive company culture, terms of the amount it spends but also in you’re going to do well. It’s what separates BTUs and kilowatts. Every 18 months, it weaker brands from the stronger ones.” performs a waste audit, peeking into its Dumpsters to see what is being discarded. About the sponsor: Truitt Bros. Inc. is a Food Alliance-certified producer of shelf-stable foods While there may be tangible outcomes for the foodservice industry. The company in being socially responsible, restaurant provides customized, shelf-stable foods to a wide variety of establishments, from restaurants and operators also find that being sustainable schools to health-care institutions and retail- has intangible benefits, including creating ers. Truitt Bros.’ product lines include such items a positive company culture and customer as soup; side dishes; chili and entrees, as well as loyalty. pumpkins; pears; cranberries; apples; cherries; plums, black, kidney, garbanzo, pinto and green beans for customers across the United States. © 2010 NetWorld Alliance Media | Sponsored by Truitt Bros. 10