Will We Save Money? 85
Table of Contents
National Initiatives 9
What Our Customers Want 14
New Trends 25
Catering & Institutions 29
Food Costs 53
Preparation Wastage 58
Pre-Consumer Waste 62
Plate Wastage 62
Takeout Wastage 66
Waste Disposal 69
Basic Practices to Start Going Green 78
Track Your Usage 78
Audit Your Operation 81
Set Goals 82
Case Study Drift Bistro, Peregian Beach, Queensland
Case Study Broadfield Youth & Community Centre, UK
Case Study Darden Restaurants, US
Monitor Your Progress 89
How to Engage Your Staff 95
Other Resources 104
What Should I Change in My Business? 108
In-House Changes 112
Building and Grounds Maintenance
Green Marketing 124
Certification and Accreditation
Customer Engagement 130
Vision for the Future 133
Next Steps 135
Organic production and preservation
Local Food Sources
Co-op Grocery Stores
Everyone has heard the term “green” and most
people would agree that something needs to be
done to protect our planet. The dictionary definition
of a green business is “a business functioning in
a capacity where no negative impact is made on
the local or global environment, the community, or
the economy. A green business will also engage in
forward-thinking policies for environmental concerns
and policies affecting human rights” (Business
Clearly this present day definition involves a lot more
than recycling a few bottles or newspapers. Going
green involves different facets of the business.
These include water usage, waste reduction and
recycling, sustainable furnishings and building
materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables and
chemical and pollutants reduction. Many countries
have recognized green non-profit organizations that
monitor business progress and award designations
Local and federal governmental authorities and world
organizations are all working diligently to look at the big
picture when it comes to food and food delivery too.
Their primary target is to secure a healthy food supply
for our world’s population. Sustainable development
for food is on the table in practically every country of
the world because it is a real threat to the survival of
the human race if it is not taken seriously. By working
to guarantee healthy food production and food delivery
today our food chain will be protected in the future.
This means we cannot cause major damage to our
environment anymore - period.
This move towards sustainability includes individuals,
communities, businesses and government. Of course,
food service businesses must be involved in the food
chain as well. We know
there are social, economic
and environmental impacts
felt from everything we
do and it is becoming
clearer every day that it is
The food service industry
must step up to the plate to design out the negative
impacts when possible or at the very least minimize
them at every opportunity. The fact that governments
have strong food sector strategies and many
businesses worldwide have already embraced this
move towards sustainability indicates just how relevant
it is. According to UNEP, over half the food produced
in the world today is lost, wasted or discarded as a
result of inefficiencies in the human-managed food
chain (UNEP, The Environmental Food Crisis). We
unquestionably have a lot of work to do to achieve this.
Australia is clearly very concerned about the direction
our planet is taking. The 266 page Sustainable
Australia Report 2013 lists waste, water and natural
resources as three of their primary topics of focus
for the future. Waste is considered vital as “waste
disposed to landfill has high costs for our society,
from pollution and infrastructure costs to the need
to find replacement resources. By reducing waste
and increasing recycling rates, we can lessen our
impact on the environment while saving money and
Australian statistics mirror those found worldwide.
The amount of waste is increasing at an alarming
rate and in Australia at least 48% of it is ending up in
landfills. The shocking revelation is that the majority
of this is recyclable. The amount of waste from the
food industry is very evident as approximately 32%
organic and 66% of this comes from the commercial
and industrial sectors. From these statistics it
is apparent that
certainly be made in
how we deliver food to
the plate instead of the
The conservation of
natural resources also
affects the food service
fish stocks are a
worldwide concern and Australia has done well in
stabilizing its supply as well as ensuring they are
not over-fished in the future. For timber sustainable
levels are established that are meant to protect the
region by limiting the amount of timber that can be
removed each year so the flow of wood products
continues indefinitely. Timber resources available for
commercial purposes from public lands have been
drastically reduced as these lands are set aside for
conservation. Australia is also harvesting less timber
from plantation lands, rather than more. Obviously
these reduced resources mean higher costs for new
paper and packaging production.
Fossil fuels rank as one of the most important
considerations when trying to establish sustainability
because they have such a detrimental impact on the
environment. This report also shows that Australia’s
supply of available fossil fuels is on a decline,
except for brown and black coal. Unfortunately the
environmental impact of burning coal is extremely
high including many serious health effects. The
mining process is well-documented for contributing to
dangerous solid waste products too.
While many industries such as food production and
manufacturing have been regulated into compliance by
government bodies or have taken the initiative on the own
accord, food service facilities in most countries remain
relatively unchanged. Of course, most restaurants know
the prudence of having a good recycling program in place
for bottles, cans and paper; but little has been done about
the amount of food that still ends up in the garbage.
Considering between a third and a half of all the world`s
food never makes it to the table more attention needs to
Crude oil and liquid petroleum gas are undoubtedly
be focused on waste.
following a downwards trend and this all means
higher prices for running vehicles and operating food-
The largest single contributor in the commercial and
related businesses. Transportation of food stuffs is
industrial sector is food service activities (e.g., cafes,
also a contributing factor to increasing food prices.
restaurants, fast food
outlets). Regardless of all
Undeniably, the negative environmental impact of
current consumption patterns is increasing and
food service businesses
becoming more evident. Our planet will not survive if
steadfastly refuse to
this trend continues. First world countries may forget
implement green changes
that today nearly “1 billion people go to bed hungry
citing high associated costs
each night (Danielle Nierenberg, Worldwatch – Vision
as the reason. Perhaps
for a Sustainable World). World hunger, even in
these organizations need to
affluent countries, is a real possibility if dramatic
take a closer look at what is
change is not made starting today.
this very revealing data, many
happening with the consumer.
as the price for economic opportunity” (Post &
Altman, 1994, p. 66). Sustainability in the food
service sector is no longer an option: it has
become a necessity.
In 2010 Unilever Food Solutions Australia commissioned
a survey of 500 Australians. The report revealed that
There is no doubt that nowadays there is a
a whopping 80% of respondents want food service
greater awareness of green restaurant practices
operators to dispose of food waste responsibly and
and improved nutrition. Quick service restaurants
sustainably. Even more people (86%) wanted the
are suffering from the effects of an increased
amount of waste food reduced and 82 percent supported
emphasis on healthy living and a distinct shift
the use of recyclable
away from saturated fats, heavy salt and
packaging and materials.
frozen foods. Restaurants known for their fast
The survey also revealed
that at least half of those
surveyed were willing
to pay more for meals
in establishments which
implement disposal plans
and are committed to
minimizing food waste.
the food service
sector is no
longer an option:
it has become a
hamburgers and deep-fried chicken are finding
that they need to offer healthy alternatives to keep
their doors open.
Today’s restaurant visitor is knowledgeable and
will go out of their way to get what they want.
Media attention on issues such as obesity,
diabetes and heart disease make diners think
Australia will likely follow
in the footsteps of other nations that now indicate this
foods. This move toward healthier choices makes
figure has reached as high as 81% and climbing. The
smaller, local establishments offering fresh fare
public “no longer accepts major environmental damage
twice about consuming soft drinks, sugar and fried
Many restaurants now
offer organic, freerange, “fair trade” or
sustainable products in
their businesses, such
as Oliver’s Real Foods.
Today you will see
consumers go to great
lengths to make sure
the food they consume
is pesticide and
hormone-free which is
no wonder considering
all the media coverage
of the long-term
For many restaurants,
knowing where their
fruit and vegetables come from presents a huge
problem as fruits and vegetables are ordered in
bulk from suppliers. The restaurant has no idea
where the food originally came from, nor how it
was handled during production. When managers
order they are generally do so through a catalog
with very limited information. If carrots are needed
one looks under vegetables checks the weight
of the bag and the cost and that’s it. These
carrots could be from the farm down the road or
one across the globe and next week it could be
Bulk ordering also makes it difficult to establish
just how fresh the produce is as it may have been
stored in the suppliers’ coolers for days or weeks.
Even after it is ordered it still must be transported
to the restaurant. Consumers know it takes time
to get this type of produce to the plate and it is
also why they prefer restaurants that use local
suppliers. This is also why green restaurants focus
on establishing local food systems strategically
connected to their restaurants.
The green movement includes supplying healthy
food and giving the consumer the opportunity
to choose products that treat animals, food
workers and the environment fairly. Purchasing
goods at the lowest price can have adverse
meat and poultry quicker to fulfill consumer
demands has led to many questionable
practices that are now being re-examined.
Restaurant chains, including McDonald’s,
Burger King (Hungry Jacks), and Wendy’s, have
announced plans to eliminate gestation crates
from their pork supply chain.
A global move towards reducing meat
consumption to conserve resources plus a larger
population of vegetarians means that the meat
and poultry industries are definitely feeling the
economic pinch of these trends. Parents are
raising their children in a meat-free household
Commercially raised chickens are kept indoors
for all of their lives and they are slaughtered
sooner than free-range birds or organic birds.
Over 40% of Australian beef uses hormone
growth promotants and has done so for more
than 30 years (MLA Meat & Livestock Australia,
www.mla.com.au). The need to produce more
and embedding the immorality of eating another
living creature in the next generations’ mind.
Scientific dated suggests that a plant-based
diet, which emphasizes fruits and vegetables,
grains, beans and legumes, and nuts, is better
for the body as it is rich in fiber, vitamins and
day per week. This is part of a global movement
called “Meatless Mondays” that has received celebrity
endorsements and a lot of media hype. A 2012 NPR
Health Analytics poll indicated that 39% of meateating Americans have reduced red meat intake in the
past three years.
other nutrients. Vegetarians generally eat fewer
calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower
risk of heart disease than non-vegetarians do. Meat
also requires much more land, water and energy to
produce. Although statistics are hotly debated, some
suggest it may take up to 11 times more total resources
to produce meat than fruit and vegetables. More and
more, those that eat meat are more discerning. They
want the assurance of a safe product and are willing to
accept a smaller portion to guarantee it.
In response to these needs, many food service
businesses also offer some or all meatless meals one
This trend is not limited to the US. Australians have
also reduced their meat intake and meatless meals
or seafood meals have risen in popularity. The
Sanitarium Vegetarian Study done in 2000 indicated
that 44% of Australians eat at least one meat-free
evening meal (not containing meat, poultry or fish)
in a week and 18% reported at least three or more
meatless meals. Part of this
may be due to rising cost of
meat, poultry and seafood.
The market for organics also
grows every year, with 75%
of families in the U.S. families
purchasing some organic
products. In Australia organic
beef sales jumped 111 per
cent and lamb 64 per cent.
Organic milk also showed
strong growth even though it is
notoriously expensive (Organic
Food Market in Australia
Grows to $300M, http://
The former president and
CEO of McDonald’s in the
US recently co-founded a
business that aims to “do
healthy food on a fast-food
scale”. The need to market healthy, sustainable
and local food free of additives and GMOs is on
every savvy business operators’ mind. Australianowned Freedom Foods is using Australia’s
need to feel
to make a
difference in the
and that their
the quality of
relatively GMO-free status as a marketing tool and
consider it a huge competitive advantage. (news.
“Nearly 100 per cent of the soy crop and 80
per cent of the corn crop in the US is GM
modified,” said CEO Michael Bracka.
There is also a strong push for “fair trade” products
such as coffee and cotton clothing that have
traditionally come from impoverished countries.
Fair Trade seeks to ensure that producers of these
products actually receive a fair amount for their
goods. Consumers and businesses can identify
products that meet their ethical values and that
make a positive impact on the world.
Sustainability is not just about making or growing
things; it is about the fair treatment of everyone
involved in the food chain. As well, sustainable
products are used that use renewable resources
extremely durable and require less energy to grow
rather than traditional sources for materials.
Certainly, consumers are more aware of what each
such as hemp and bamboo that grow quickly, are
Educating consumers about the status of the food
industry may well be the best way to decrease harm
and force sustainability into restaurants. Consumer
behavior has always played a strong role in what
industry must produce if they are to survive. Two
essential factors for successful sustainability have been
identified as the customers need to feel empowered
to make a difference in the world through their
choices and that their choices create a long-lasting
improvement in the quality of their lives. If food service
venues are unable to provide the level of quality
patrons desire they may well opt for buying food where
they know what they are getting and then cooking at
home. This more affordable consumer trend is a real
threat to the food service industry’s revenues.
restaurant is doing through the internet and social
media connectivity. Diners can look for a restaurant on
their mobile phone, read about customer experiences
and even check out the menu before they decide to
step through the door. New mobile apps allow users
to scan a product bar code to determine if products are
eco-friendly or not. Major multi-nationals like Nestle
and Kraft have opened their vaults so the public can
view the ingredients in their recipes. Legislation was
presented to the California legislature requiring labeling
on restaurant and take out foods which sparked a huge
debate among food service companies and sustainable
food proponents. Change is clearly in the wind.
Mass marketing and big chain restaurants are
increasingly being replaced for smaller local “authentic”
locations. The need for a personalized transparent
dining experience has never been more important.
Obviously, we should be re-examining all of this when
55% of consumers believe that food production is on
the wrong track (Edelman Insights, Field to Fork, 2012).
In order to compete in increasingly difficult consumer
market food service businesses must remain
now plays a
in the food
competitive. Grant Thornton’s conducted a survey of
CEOs in the Australian food and beverage industry. The
message in Food for Thought is clear: product innovation
now plays a significant role in improving profitability
in the food service industry (http://qsrmedia.com.au).
This product innovation is largely driven by the “green”
movement seen around the world.
New food trends are emerging in the hopes of enticing
an ever-increasing population of particular eaters into
eating establishments. Hyper-local foods are foods
grown in house in unused areas of the food service
business. Many restaurants have sported their own herb
garden for many years but restaurants and institutions
with space are taking things to a new level.
Hyper-local farming is small-scale subsistence farming,
meaning that you produce enough for your business
without the use of fossil-fuel machines, the addition of
preservatives, or the threat of pest infestation associated
with long-term storage. Benefits of hyper-local foods
include extreme freshness with food often ending up on
the plate within hours rather than days, plus your money
stays within your business.
Other trends include sourcing
locally produced wine, beer
or spirits and homemade
desserts. All of these
products can be made with
local ingredients and may
also be unlike anything
available on a large scale
commercially. Yet another
unique offering is artisan
foods. Artisan foods are handcrafted in smaller batches and
made with high quality ingredients. Popular artisan
menu items include ice cream, cheese and bacon.
A large array of plant-based protein alternatives can
be found in the marketplace too. These proteins are
100% plant based, free of gluten, easily processed and
ready to use just like meat or poultry when cooking.
They can be cut into fillets, strips, chunks, cubes, or
slices and require far fewer resources to produce.
Whole grains such as quinoa, black rice and sorghum
have moved into the spotlight as well as plant-based
dairy substitutes made from rice, nuts or soy.
Much of the large-scale food supply for business is
provided by the catering industry. This may include
airlines, hospitals, nursing homes and educational
institutions. Change is definitely in the wind for all
facets of the food service industry when it comes to
Within NZ and Australia, airline catering is produced
in central processing facilities. By using both cookchill and cook-freeze technologies they are able
to produce between 8 to over 20million meals per
year. These facilities operate under stringent quality
In early 2001, Qantas established its own centralised
frozen foods facility called Snap Fresh. It is located
in the South East sector of Queensland and provides
the airline industry with over 9 million meals per
year. The facility is state-of-the-art in its design and
adheres to the highest food safety standards. This
facility caters for many types of cuisines and can
store large quantities of single-serve frozen meals.
As a fully owned subsidiary of Qantas, Snap Fresh
provides the airline with a range of high quality
meals, including Asian, Western, Halal and vegan
dishes. The airline customers can choose from
a broad range of tried and proven meals or work
• Multi-port Distribution and Usage - well-
with the highly accomplished R&D team to develop
established distribution using cold-
unique, distinctive meals.
chain logistics ensures widely available,
consistently high quality meals made from
The main advantages to this type of supply approach
in the airline industry, and now healthcare sectors,
are seen as being:
• Quality & Consistency - an integrated supply
chain and regular communication with growers
maximises the benefits of seasonal supply to
ensure consistent quality and value.
• Flexible Menu - the medium-scale production
fresh Australian produce.
• Competitive Pricing - with existing base
volumes secured, Snap Fresh leverages
the benefits of economies of scale and a
low cost production model.
• Convenience, Improved Inventory
Management and Reduced Wastage using Snap Fresh meals with a long shelf-
process allows frequent menu changes and
tailor-made meal solutions.
life can assist inventory management,
reduce wastage and offer greater flexibility.
• Flexibility - the plant has been designed to
The move from freshly cooked to frozen or chilled meals
provide a range of packaging options, from
also reduces operational costs. These include:
bulk to individual serves, complete meals
• 40% reduction in supervisory and management
or component products to suit individual
• 89% reduction in cooking
• 72% reduction in ware-washing/cleaning
• 45% reduction in cleaning
One advantage of single or bulk serve meal is an
expected 30% reduction in each facility’s carbon
footprint. For some of the larger older kitchens, this
Hospital food service is changing in leaps and bounds.
figure would be as high as 50%. This would represent
Hospitals have a moral responsibility to serve good,
significant value for hospital administrators and
healthy food as they are in the business of getting people
increased revenues for future growth for kitchens.
well. Their practices have come under scrutiny in recent
years and the need for improvement is evident. They are
This move towards single-serve frozen or chilled
in the business of healing people and good nutrition and
meals includes sustainable compostable containers
and compostable cutlery. This move to a compostable
system also results in significant operational savings.
• Elimination of various equipment requirements
including dishwasher and cooking appliances
• Savings from the removal of dishwashing lines,
space savings and more efficient meal reheating
• Reduces the indirect cost structures including
cleaning, maintenance, crockery and cutlery.
sustainability in operations are essential to effective
These could include allergies, dietary restrictions, and
hospital management today.
overall health and patient preferences. An appropriate
diet could then be generated that fulfilled both the
Today, food service in hospitals is also becoming
patient’s nutritional and dietary requirements and the
a more personalized venture. The days of large
patients’ preferences for particular types of food, where
institutional kitchens are quickly becoming a thing
of the past. The demise of these massive kitchens
means no more ticking off your meal selection on a
Naturally, an optimum diet promotes recovery and could
card and then waiting until your tepid meal arrives,
reduce the time spent in hospital, thus reducing costs in
despite the warmer. Meal preparation in many
the long run. Malnutrition is said to contribute to many
hospitals is now made-to-order right on the ward.
adverse outcomes including lowering immunity, slower
Food is served hot and fresh.
wound healing, muscle
wasting, and increased
This change in many hospitals has moved the
nutrition prior to treatment
traditional food service responsibility from simply
and during a patient’s
putting food on the plate to providing excellent
recovery can lead to
nutrition. Meals must be tailored for the needs of
increased risk of illness and
the individual’s health problems, physical condition
a decreased quality of life.
With nutrition and hydration
There is an industry push for mandatory dietary
screening on admission to identify any risks.
being key components to
achieving optimum patient
outcomes, as well being as the most common
therapeutic intervention for all patients, it is essential
that hospital food and nutrition services strive to
A 2008 study conducted in Sidney indicated that
the incidence of mortality after 12 months was
29.7% in malnourished subjects compared with
provide patients with quality food and beverages.
10.1% in well-nourished subjects. Patients also
Malnutrition in Hospital
they were malnourished (Prevalence of malnutrition
Malnutrition is not a rarity in hospitals. It has been
suggested that as many as 40% of patients are
Only a fraction of
individuals are ever
referred to a dietitian.
Sadly, the degree of
malnutrition in Australia
is similar to other
nations. There is a
definite link between
and increased mortality.
stayed in hospital an average of 6 days longer if
and 12-month incidence of mortality in two Sydney
teaching hospitals, 2008).
Not only is there a problem with the quality of food
but there are also problems with getting meals to
patients. Studies have shown there are various
reasons why patients do not eat hospital meals.
Why Don’t Patients Eat?
One of the primary reasons that patients do
not receive the food they prefer is due to
communication. Patients may not have sufficient
language skills to communicate their concerns or
preferences or may not be able to read at all. Other
patients may struggle with disabilities such as
dyslexia, motor impairments or mental impairments.
While the rest of the food service industry has
embraced technology as a means of improving
ordering and stock control, large institutions seem
to be slow to do so. Inefficient ordering systems
can result in delayed or incorrect orders which the
patient will not eat. Traditional hospital kitchens
mass-produce meals. Therefore, the menu does
not take into account cultural differences or special
needs such as vegetarianism or veganism. Patients
are faced with the prospect of choosing between the
lesser of a few evils if none of the items meet their
preferences. Some simply choose not to eat at all.
While restaurants are quick to recognize that we
the food to
little effort spent on appearance and presentation.
Even though the meal may provide the nutrients the
patient needs they may not eat it if it looks bad.
Meals may also be disrupted due to the workings
of the hospital such as ward rounds by nurses,
doctors’ appearances and tests and transfers that
are not coordinated with food service. Patients’
meals may be unintentionally missed.
Few hospitals have systems in place that recognize
a patients’ individual medical condition with a
responsive diet to match it. Consequently, meals
may be prepared that a patient cannot eat. Plus,
patients who require special help to actually eat
are not identified on wards and busy nurses do not
have time to help patients eat. There may also be
breakdowns in communication between nursing,
kitchen and dietetic staff on the wards so that the
wrong meal is prepared or the it ends up in the
of meals can lead to rapidly prepared plates with
Being a patient in
How to Improve
a hospital may be
European trends in recent years have focused on
enough to make
increasing the quality of the intake of nutritious
food as being crucial for patients who are
lose their appetite.
recovering from the effects of medical or surgical
Sharing a room
procedures. Patients who receive good nutrition
with a seriously
may have shorter hospital stays, fewer post-
ill patient or
operative complications and less need for drugs
and other interventions.
In order to ensure the effective delivery of good
impair a patients’
nutrition in healthcare facilities, a team-based
approach has been developed. Caterers,
kitchen staff, dietitians, nurses, doctors, ward
facilities are under increasingly difficult financial
housekeepers and orderlies all have an important
part to play
burdens for staffing and patient care. Consequently,
many health managers have not had the time
or resources necessary to design the protocols
hospital food services could be improved after
required for proper nutritional standards and
a decline in quality and bad press. Research
policies. In addition, surveys have shown that there
showed that a few changes could make a huge
is low knowledge of nutrition among medical and
difference to a patients’ mealtime experience.
nursing staff and few resources for training.
In 2001, the British Government looked at how
Eventually, the PEAT (Patient Environment Action
Teams) program identified the following as vital to
providing proper food to patients:
• Flexible menu providing patients with a greater
choice of meals and easier to understand menus
• Protected mealtimes guaranteeing patients have
• 24-hour catering providing food any time of the day
• Sustainability reducing environmental impact of
• Nutritional focus for caterers and dieticians.
In response, The Hospital Caterers Association
set up a website that is packed with resources on
nutrition, menu planning and guidelines (http://www.
hospitalcaterers.org/better-hospital-food). In most
of Europe the hospitals are managed by contract
caterers supplied with meal/food providers and are
moving to single serve chilled or frozen meals.
Significant amounts of frozen meals (bulk and
single serve) are produced by Tillery Valley Foods
(TVF), Apetito and Anglia Crown. These are very
large manufacturing facilities supplying foods all
over England, Scotland and Wales. They supply
predominantly in bulk packs, however Compass
(Contract Caterer) has started a single-serve facility
(chilled) which is being optioned by TVF (Frozen) in
After the report on Better Hospital Foods in 2002,
food services in England has become focused on
serving better quality and seen as a core part of the
patient recovery process.
Use of Compostable Products
In the past, the use of compostable cutlery,
containers, cups and bowls has been quite
contentious. Today, they are being looked at in a
new light due to new materials and an increased
need for specialised packaging. Past experiences
with inferior products has led to the development of
new technologies. These new technologies were
well-tested in non-health industries and have now
been adapted to the food industry. They can have
varied shapes, sizes, colour, texture, and rigidity to
suit any requirements plus they are compostable
(able to be fully degraded and safely utilised as
fertiliser within 10-14 days). These new products can
be seen at www.biorenew.com.au.
Currently, most of the food containers and food waste
from hospitals and airlines ends up in the landfills.
New containers are now made
from a naturally occurring
biopolymer called polylactide
(PLA). This biopolymer
significantly reduces the
energy, chemical and human
resource requirements of
large scale dishwashing and is
safe for the environment.
These plant-based polymers
perform well in both plastic
and fiber forms so they are ideal for food industry
containers. Industry leaders include BASF, known for
their audio tapes in the past (http://www.bioplastics.
basf.com/ecoflex.html) and Nature Works LLC for their
development of “Ingeo”, a polymer made from plant
sugars from field corn (http://www.natureworksllc.com).
These new PLA disposables can replace existing
polyethylene terephthalate-based items (derived from
crude oil) in the healthcare sector. Their advantages are:
• PLA is a renewable resource with a 90% reduction in
greenhouse gas emissions in making the resin
• Disposables do not require washing before composting
• Opportunity for hospitals and nursing homes to create
their own designs, providing flexible shape and textures
to suit all packaging requirements
In addition, accelerated aerobic composting can be
brought about by
microorganisms in 1
to 14 days. Special
self contained, fully
enclosed units on
site control odours,
gas by 90%
without the need
for additional odour
The compost that is produced meets all regulatory
standards and can be sold commercially or used on site
by each facility.
Institution Composting Basics
With the accelerated aerobic composting process,
moisture, temperature, oxygen and the initial carbon/
nitrogen ratio are monitored and controlled within
ideal ranges for maximum microbial activity. The
composted material is aerated by mechanical means
Composting is defined as “the biological
to ensure that there are no anaerobic pockets in the
decomposition of organic waste materials to produce
mass. The accelerated aerobic process is brought
a stable humus or soil-like product.” Natural
about by naturally-occurring microorganisms, which
composting has existed since the beginning of time.
consume oxygen and produce heat.
It is a relatively slow process, taking twelve weeks to
six months to produce a stable end product. Organic
Once most of the organics have been metabolized, the
material is left in a pile or row to decompose naturally.
temperature of the composting mass starts to drop.
Over time, portions of
In the accelerated aerobic process, this stabilization
the pile or row become
so dense that air does
not circulate. Obnoxious
odours are produced. This
is called the anaerobic
(meaning absence of
process. This process can
be sped up using special
systems that can be used in
begins to occur after approximately 7 days. The
typical retention time for most institutions in the
new technology is no more than 14 days, with new
designs composting in 24 hours.
From Plants to Plastic Containers,
Packaging and Cutlery
We start with an abundant natural resource, like
plants, which can easily and efficiently be produced
each year. Today’s technology allows us to isolate
the starch from the other components of the plant
and turn that starch into dextrose. The dextrose, or
sugar, is fermented in a process similar to making
yogurt to create lactic acid. Lactic acid is a naturally
occurring material that gives the “tang” to yogurt and
makes your muscles ache after a work-out.
From lactic acid we create a molecule called lactide.
We remove water, crystallize it and create the highperformance polymer – polylactide (PLA). This
natural plastic is then used to make a variety of food
industry items and is completely bio-degradable.
Product & Applications
These biopolymers are already proving
themselves a success in many commercial
applications such as in fibre and non-woven
materials, films, extruded and thermo-formed
containers, and extrusion and emulsion
coatings. The biopolymer is a natural fit for many
applications currently using polyester, polyolefins,
polystyrene and cellulosics. With performance
properties that span these materials, as well as
its production ease, this biopolymer can offer
cost and productivity advantages that constitute a
competitive advantage for any institution.
Most other packaging materials used in institutions
are PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) derived from
crude oil, a diminishing non-renewable resource.
PLA is made using an annually renewable
resource - plants. This plant-based origin results
in 90% less carbon emissions. PLA also uses
67% less fossil fuel than a PET container of
comparable size. This results in 90% lower
greenhouse gas emissions in making the resin.
Finally, any greenhouse emissions we produce
in our production process are offset in other areas to
ensure minimal impact on the environment.
PLA packaging may be branded for large institutions
too. Unique sizes or shapes may be modelled and
the resin is ideal for most packaging requirements.
Applications using this biopolymer can be clear,
opaque, flexible or rigid. Biopolymer has similar
properties to polystyrene including gloss and clarity. It
also exhibits tensile strength and modulus comparable
to hydrocarbon-based thermoplastics.
Like polyester, biopolymer resists grease and oil and
offers an excellent flavour and odour barrier.
In addition, the biopolymer provides heat seal ability
at temperatures equivalent to polyolefin sealant resins
suitable for the re-thermalisation in the ovens or carts.
Continuous loading is possible so containers can be
added after each meal is delivered from the kitchen.
By managing oxygen, moisture and temperature, the
1-14 day retention cycle within the
vessel. The process creates heat
so the equipment must regulate the
temperature within ideal ranges.
When temperature probes sense
that the upper limit of the set point
of any one of the three temperature
zones within the hospital system
is reached, the supply fan for
that zone is triggered. The
loading zone is set to promote
thermophyllic composting and to
ensure that composting materials
remain above 55 degrees C.
A set point of 52-54 C is used in the unloading
zone for optimal biodegradation. This degree of
temperature control, combined with in-situ mixing and
proprietary moisture management, enables a 1-14
day retention cycle. The resulting compost meets all
regulatory standards and can be sold or used at each
of the hospital gardens.
aerobic composting process is accelerated to create a
Yet another great advancement is in education. Major
colleges and universities throughout the world now
offer undergraduate programs and certificates in
different areas of sustainability in response to an evergrowing need. As young students already recognize
that the global industrial agriculture system is the No.
1 consumer of fossil fuels, the need for education to
prevent problems such as global warming and the
expertise to develop feasible sustainability plans
is vital. Educational programs focus on important
subjects such as local food production and marketing,
Awards with competitors vying for one of the top 50
positions in the world. The guidelines are stringent
but placing in the top 10 is also very prestigious as
the entrants are literally from any and every country
around the globe.
Soon diners will be able to search any establishment
on the worldwide web and know whether your
organization is green within seconds.
Rising costs are actually a very good reason to
farm-based education and public policy and advocacy,
move your business towards sustainability. Most
Many local, regional for non-profit authorities
all food items that are
are also establishing the criteria necessary to be
dubbed a “green” business. Within recent years,
the first international restaurant rating system was
established through the Sustainable Restaurant
Association (SRA). This means that diners can match
their sustainability priorities to a suitable restaurant
wherever they are in the world. Competition is
already fierce for the SRA Sustainable Restaurant
restaurants today are effectively paying twice for
wasted. First, they must
purchase the ingredients
and then they must pay for
the disposal of the waste.
It has been estimated that
by reducing food waste by
a mere 20% a restaurant
would save substantially
on waste collection costs.
A 20% reduction would mean a very substantial
In 2012 the US experienced the worst drought
4,000 kilo reduction in waste each year. (Too Good to
seen in 25 years which virtually wiped out the
Waste, SRA 2010).
corn and soybeans crops of the Midwest food
belt. According the USDA, this led to a series of
It has also been suggested that rising landfill taxes
problems such as increased seed costs for the
and transportation costs will soon make it more
devastated crops, increased costs for animal
economical to compost food waste on site or have it
feed and consequent price increases for meats
collected for composting or anaerobic digestion than
and animal-based products. (USDA , Economic
to send it to landfill. Biorenew can provide machines
Research Service, 2012). In Australia, the
that can handle from 2 kilos to 20 tons of waste
incidence of drought followed by heavy rainfalls
per day. Added to this is the fact that raw meats
is projected to increase under climate change
and vegetables are skyrocketing in price. Climatic
(Australian Government, Dept. of Climate Change,
changes have impacted our food sources already.
Naturally this all leads to higher food costs. The
2007 Australian drought saw an increase of up
to 43% for fresh fruits alone. This upward trend
is expected to continue each time we experience
unpredictable weather and each time the
consequences are more severe. Many ranchers
have given up because their grazing land has
been wiped out by wild fires or floods or feed costs
are more than the meat is worth when it makes it
Considering the unpredictability of our weather
and the strains on the agricultural sector, it makes
absolute sense that food costs will rise steadily.
If you work in the food service industry you already
Labour, energy, water and transportation costs add
know just how much ends up in waste bins each day
to the costs of your raw materials too. Once the
and it’s enough to make you cringe. A University of
valuable commodity of purchased food reaches the
Arizona study in 2005 estimated the total food loss
door of your establishment it should be maximized,
per day amounted to 49,296,540 lbs (225,605,000
not wasted. Sustainability practices implemented
kilos) for full service restaurants and 85,063,390 lbs
now make sense to secure your business for what
(385,553,514 kilos) for fast food restaurants. Almost
may be an increasingly difficult market. Clearly
90% of materials in Australian food service bins were
this is the last thing the food service needs as it is
recyclable including compostable food and packaging
already suffering due to a lagging world economy.
(Sustainability Victoria, 2005).
Price wars have erupted between major chains in
For years there was debate about just where all this
hopes of securing whatever profit they can from a
waste was coming from and whether or not anything
more frugal health-conscious consumer. Market
could be done about it. Everyone conceded that
share battles between competitors has dwindled an
wasted food cost their business money but most
already damaged profit margin. Food service has
thought that the majority of this waste was post-
erupted in convenience stores and new businesses
production and in the hands of the diner. It turns out
eager to snag their bit of the market continue to
this is not true at all.
appear, regardless of the drop in revenues. The
restaurant and food service industry is in crisis. It`s
a dog eat dog world out there but the food industry is
service is the Sustainable Restaurant Association
only now starting to respond
One of the leaders in the fight for sustainable food
(SRA) based out of the United Kingdom. Their
surveys and policies
will have travelled many
miles over several days
implications and many
or weeks before they end
up at a restaurant. Most
seek their endorsement
fruits and vegetables travel
as “sustainable”. The
around 1,500 miles before
SRA recognized that one
they reach a restaurant.
of the principle areas of
First world diners demand
contention in the food
foods when they want them,
service industry was how
regardless of the season.
waste was produced. As
a result, in 2010 the SRA
There is loss of meat and
conducted a Food Waste
poultry too. Meats must
Survey that revealed
it is served
be trimmed and portions
some very interesting facts, some of which were
are lost due to fat and gristle. Bones and skin may be
removed from poultry. Meat and poultry can shrink
considerably in the cooking process especially when
mass-produced and hormone fed.
The majority of waste in food service is not from
consumers but from preparation. Approximately 65%
of food waste comes from preparing food before it
supply with demand. While a diligent manager and a
is even served. Raw vegetables must be prepared
good inventory system can track consumption daily,
by peeling and chopping away discoloration or
weekly, monthly and yearly, no system can take all
spoilage. Many vegetables received from suppliers
Then there is the ever present challenge of balancing
the variables into account. Changes in weather, local
events, construction detours and employee errors
be stolen by light-fingered employees; food can be
can all result in excess food in the cooler or on the
handled inappropriately, poorly prepared or stored
shelves. If you talk to anyone in the food service
incorrectly and spoiled. Large enterprises such as
business they will tell you that there is no rhyme
cafeterias in educational facilities or large buffets in
or reason to why one day can be insanely busy
hotels need multiples of all personnel including prep
while the next is completely dead. There is simple
staff and cooks. These businesses also need more
no predicting when a customer will come in to eat.
of everything; equipment, cooking oil, dry goods,
Consequently, the food service industry must rely on
condiments, seasonings and sauces. All of this must
past trends for ordering.
be calculated and if done incorrectly money and
materials are wasted.
As well, food that is open to the public rather
than served on demand must be monitored for
contamination and changed periodically. Stringent
food safety procedures involve keeping cold foods
cold and hot foods hot, but never for long periods
of time. Food must be disposed of if it drops above
or below the acceptable temperatures and in most
cases cannot be reused at all. More and more
food service businesses are being required to
For buffet, cafeteria and catering businesses there
is the added problem of the large menu. Large
allergies. Prepared foods which inadvertently come
menus require large inventories to track and the
into contact with suspect foods, such as nuts, must
possibility of more things going wrong. Goods can
label dishes so ingredients are known to those with
be thrown out. The threat of severe poisoning or
even death makes some losses from food disposal
Unlike most businesses, restaurants often operate
unavoidable and an absolute necessity.
almost every day of the year and for longer hours
than the standard 9 to 5 establishment. Fast food
and takeout restaurants generate mountains of
Food service wastage is not only measured by the
refuse for the landfill too and much of it is not bio-
amount of food stuffs tossed out each and every
degradable or not from a renewable resource. The
day but also the resources used to actually put the
quantities of food required for a smooth operation
food on the table. Food service businesses require
must be calculated, ordered and delivered. Food
tremendous amounts of water and fossil fuels and
must be prepped, cooked and served. An average
their associated costs are rising drastically. Cleaning
meal in a full service restaurant requires at least
and preparing food and washing dishes and glasses
three visits from an employee never mind the array
alone consume vast amounts of fresh water, never
of glassware, dishes and cutlery that must be
mind toilet and hand washing facilities for diners.
presented, cleared and cleaned.
Plus most restaurants cook with oil or gas for fuel
and are lit with hydro electric power.
Almost everyone has gone to a restaurant and
been unable to finish all the food on their plate.
Food service businesses require
tremendous amounts of water &
fossil fuels & their associated costs
are rising drastically
Food service businesses often fill a plate with
starches such as rice, potatoes or pasta so the
customer never walks away hungry. The problem
with this mentality is that the amount of food on
each plate must be large to accommodate even
the biggest eater. Many eateries will even bump
up your portion to a gigantic size for just a small
charge. This unhealthy practice not only promotes
food is leftover. Success is measured by the total of the
over-eating and may be a contributing factor to
daily cash out. This profit-driven, short-term mentality has
the problems of obesity in the world but it also
a great disadvantage. Approximately 30% of food waste
epitomizes the saying `my eyes are bigger than my
comes back from customers’ plates.
stomach`. When we are hungry it is easy to order
too much food and that excess food all too often
ends up in the waste bin. Participating restaurants
in the SRA survey produced over 1 pound (.48kg) of
food waste per diner.
Many full service
restaurants also use
which are deceiving.
Patrons will order
extra side dishes
not realizing that
Plate wastage is like throwing 30% of your
raw resources into a waste bin that you
could have used to produce a major portion
of another meal. If the diner does decide to
take the excess home, you must pay for the
labour to package it and the packaging too.
If they do not take it home you must pay to
dispose of it. Plate wastage comes straight
out of your profits.
Food waste also occurs due to spoilage. The food service
the plate is deeper
than it appears.
handling regulations which include time limits on how long
Once again, the leftover food usually ends up as
foods can be frozen or how long they can be refrigerated
wastage. A regular requirement for servers in chain
after opening. Unexpected equipment problems or power
restaurants is to “up-sell” to the diner offering them
outages can wreak havoc on a kitchen. Food service
an appetizer, a specialty drink and a dessert to
businesses are required to monitor the temperatures of
increase profits. Few managers are concerned if
industry must adhere to “best-before” dates and food
their coolers, but when a rise in temperature is detected it
may be too late to salvage the
5% of food
when it could
be used for
contents. Most restaurants
Larger chains have better waste control measures in
order in large quantities and if
place and their rates are estimated to range between
ordering is incorrect or there
5% and 7 % (To Understand Food Loss in American
are fewer customers than
Food Systems, 2006).
anticipated food may pass its
Local takeout chains
can have food loss rates as high as 50%.
On top of the expected food losses, fast food
Even when food is stored
restaurants must continuously pre-prepare food for
correctly it may have to
quick service. In addition, there are multiple items that
be discarded. Meat or
need to be made and they can only be retained for a
vegetables can have uneven
very short period of time. This system is only efficient
colouring that makes them
when there is a steady stream of consumers to eat the
impossible to serve. Vegetables may be inconsistently
food. If there is a lag in the number of customers then
sized making them difficult to cook. Eggshells can be
food must be discarded to ensure freshness. Some
cracked presenting a safety issue. Baked potatoes
restaurants throw out food after sitting for 7 minutes.
may have black spots inside that are only seen when
cut for presentation. Up to 5% of food is classified as
Other restaurants also provide delivery service which
unusable when it could be used for other purposes.
relies on food getting to the client on time and hot.
Clearly, this doesn`t always happen so the original
order must be thrown out and the food must be made
Fast food may involve several additional types of
again. This double loss also doubles the labour and
wastage on top of normal food service. Take out waste
packing that is wasted.
largely depends on the type and size of the restaurant.
In fact, 57% of consumers would like to see more
Many franchised takeout businesses depend on
casual dining restaurants offer takeout (Sources of
regional warehouses to restock their supplies.
Takeout Food, 2006, Technomics). Undoubtedly,
Consequently, restaurants have less onsite storage
restaurants will offer more takeout as the demand is
but managers are still faced with the challenge of
anticipating consumer demand. Orders written on
paper can be quite different from physical boxes
arriving to be stored in a cooler and it is not unusual
Naturally there have been improvements. The
to find you simply
movement away from non-compostable materials
do not have enough
such as foam containers and the implementation
space. This can
result in high losses of
Growth in the takeout
industry is strong and
in the last 20
of biodegradable garbage bags is definitely in the
right direction but change has been particularly slow
in the food service sector. Restaurateurs cite stiff
competition and a poor economy as factors for not
implementing “green” practices. Most owners look
at these measures as unreasonable costs that are
it does not appear
not vital to business operations. This profit-driven
to be slowing down.
mindset is totally understandable but also rather
Prepared meals brought home increased 70%
in the last 20 years. Plus 30% of the population
already eat out at least three times a week (NPD
Eating Trends Survey, 2010). Busy lifestyles and
reduced time at home make takeout a normal thing
Legislation by municipalities regarding
waste disposal indicates the trend
towards sustainability is inevitable.
with many families.
Many cities do not have the land to handle the large
The writing is on the wall when it comes to who will
volumes of waste and are imposing hefty fees for
bear the burden of the costs involved in food service
access to landfills or are finding it necessary to “ship”
their refuse elsewhere. The problem is so extreme in
and federal level
places like New York City that they are considering
other alternatives such as garbage chutes leading
to treatment plants below ground. They estimate
their 6000 garbage trucks generate nearly 2 tons of
greenhouse gases every year and costs increase by
of waste treatment
a third every five years. Truck miles have one of the
and some have
greatest environmental consequences as they are not
fuel efficient and consequently waste is compacted,
legislation that lays the associated cost of waste in the
loads are heavier and trucks are retired earlier.
lap of the food service operator.
The rising cost of gasoline and oil
means that waste disposal fees will
continue to increase. All these costs are
Operators need to accept that green
sustainable policies will not be optional
in the near future. Proactive food service
passed on to the user and in the case of a food
professionals see the wisdom in starting now.
service business these are substantial. Some
By looking at what they are doing now that is
localities fine businesses for unacceptable trash or
unsustainable they can plan incremental changes that
insist that special systems are in place for disposal of
are both economically and operationally feasible.
materials such as cooking oil or broken glass. The
cost of disposing of restaurant waste is skyrocketing.
Leaders such as Food Drink Europe have set a
mandate to halve Europe’s food waste by 2020 and
other organisations have similar goals. The cost
towards a ban on these containers because of their
of not going green is increasing rapidly. As well
impact on the environment. These foam containers
as being an environmental issue, there are clear
are said to contain up to 57 by-products after
monetary and social benefits. Everyone wants to
incineration and some of these toxic chemicals have
be happy and to feel that they are contributing to
been seen to leach into food when reheated in a
a greater good. Sound environmental practices
microwave. They are also manufactured from a non-
make obvious business sense if it contributes to
renewable resource; petroleum. Lastly, they also
happier, more productive employees, reduced
contain hydrocarbons which are a threat to the ozone
losses and a returning clientele.
layer of our planet.
Another major concern which revolves around
food is packaging. Food must be packaged for
transport both to and from the establishment.
Packaging ensures that food arrives at its
destination intact and unblemished and many
improvements have been made for distributing
bulk foods. However, much work needs to be
done in the takeout food industry. While some
green trend emerging around the world. This trend
businesses have taken the initiative to re-evaluate
involves revealing the carbon footprint data at the
the types of containers passed on to consumers,
point of purchase. A carbon footprint measures
many still use non-bio-degradable products such
the amount of carbon dioxide emitted due to the
as foam takeout boxes as they are considered
consumption of a fossil fuel plus all the restaurant
less expensive. Many municipalities are moving
A 2012 QSR Magazine online article discusses a
resources used such as electricity and packaging.
It is meant to help
a reusable container in 2010 to replace their
measure the impact
foam ones which won them a greener packaging
on the environment
award. Many companies have also introduced PET
bottles for soft drinks as they are made from post-
consumer waste and have a smaller impact on the
Although there is
environment as they can be recycled again and
no legislation in
again. Coca-Cola went a step further and created a
place at the time of
bottle made from plant materials. Subway removed
this publication, it is
the paper between cheese slices saving 450,000
anticipated that many nations will insist on customers
pounds of paper annually in the US alone.
being able to check a business’ carbon footprint
through labelling in the very near future.
If a business does not use green
practices their carbon footprint will be
high and indications are that the new
eco-savvy consumer will not buy their
This new increased focus on packaging is for a
very good reason. Packaging makes up almost
all the remaining waste that ends up in our bins
besides organic materials. Today 32% of our
packaging waste is still made of plastic which is
another petroleum-based non renewable resource.
Recycling has reduced, but not eliminated, the
amount of packaging that makes its way into our
The fact that it is being heavily debated today
landfills every day.
indicates there is a very strong interest in
implementing it in the future. Many large fast food
chains have made changes already. KFC introduced
The development of new types of packaging is in
direct response to our garbage crisis today.
Soaring waste management costs and
rapid changes to waste regulations
indicate that green packaging makes
good financial sense for the food service
industry. New packaging that has zero impact on
the environment will likely be the norm in the nottoo-distant future. Products made from recycled
paper, sugar cane products, hemp, and corn not
only reduce our impact on
Business owners will actually
save money by implementing
savings techniques while
minimising climate change
risk. A “green” business is
the business of tomorrow
and to ignore this would
practice indeed. Cost savings and energy efficiency
also come from renewable
are obvious advantages but also consider that going
resources. Foam, petroleum-
“green” can offer you a competitive advantage and
based products will not
draw in new customers. Your existing customers
remain inexpensive for long
may feel more loyalty towards your business and
considering the escalating
Zero Waste Systems
Many “green” restaurants are also handling much of
their waste in-house as this reduces transportation
costs and waste removal fees. This means that
packaged must be organic in nature in order to be
composted or digested. Packaging is essential in
food service as it can maximize shelf life and be used
to transport the finished product to its destination.
green are many and varied.
be a very foolish business
the environment but they
costs of oil and gas.
Clearly the reasons for going
you will be ready for any new waste legislation that
comes to pass. It just makes good business sense
to go green. By using simple tips and tools you can
start your business on the path to sustainability.
Both your staff and your customers will feel better
about dealing with your organization and you can
have peace of mind knowing you are doing what you
can to reduce your carbon footprint while providing a
BASIC PRACTICES TO
START GOING GREEN
customers so your power bill is lower but your cost
The need to create a food service business that is
You will still need to track all of your energy
more in tune with the environment and the desires
resources so you can measure the results of your
of consumers is very evident. Many restaurants
changes. These include water, electricity, oil or
have taken the first steps in making their operation
gas, waste and transportation costs.
may actually be higher if your restaurant used
more power to earn the same amount of revenue.
more “metabolic”. This usually starts at the
management level by officially involving them in the
Record the date, amount and the consumption
corporate commitment. If you are a small business
for each separate resource in a program like
meeting with your manager or staff to discuss what
Excel and produce tables to show the pattern of
lies ahead is a good starting point.
consumption throughout the year. You will need
at least a years’ data to get an accurate idea
Track Your Usage
of how the seasons affect your business so old
As a food business operator you will need to know
where you are now to know what the impact is
when you implement change. Short and long-term
planning involves goal setting, accountability and a
game plan to achieve the desired results.
There are limits to using the dollar value as the
only way to track change as it does not reflect true
consumption. One month you may have fewer
invoices may need to be looked up and entered.
Audit Your Operation
Once you have 12 months of data, calculate
Conducting an audit can be a complex, in-depth
an average consumption rate for each of the
process that exceeds the limits of this document but
resources. This is your starting point for planning
there are plenty of resources available to assist you
what you would like to see happen in the future.
if you run a large operation. Professionals can be
This data also serves as a comparison point to
employed to come on-site, identify your businesses’
see if there is improvement as you implement
short-comings and prepare a very detailed report
new measures over the months.
for you. There are also many local and national
organizations that can assist you in completing your
You can also use these figures to look at how you
audit. For most owners a thorough walk-through
are doing when compared with the industry as a
of the premises will give you enough information to
whole and against your competitors specifically
if you can obtain their data. Green companies
are often very proud of their accomplishments
and publish their statistics for the public and
stakeholders to read.
Many businesses find it wise to invest in
sustainability software programs that make it
easy to input information as it flows through
your system. The software tracks the ratio of
consumption to profit so you can get a true
picture of what is going on in particular times of
the day, week, months or years of your operation.
Managers normally have an excellent idea about what
are progressing towards these goals. There are
needs to be done as they work in the business every
industry standards one may follow for KPI’s (Key
day and their input can be invaluable. Owners should
Performance Indicators) but for small business
ask their assistance in the audit process. The idea is
a simple goal such as “reducing our electricity
to record information about all areas of operation that
consumption by 10% by the end of the year” may
could be improved in your business. These may include
be sufficient. The entire idea is to commit and
upgrading your current systems, analyzing the types of
track your progress.
resources that are used in particular areas, recognizing
the areas that are obviously creating a lot of waste and
documenting equipment or building improvements that
No business has the
need to be done in the future.
resources to make
An audit includes a review of mechanical and electrical
changes needed to
systems so have a technician on-hand to answer
any questions that may arise as you move through
green in one fell swoop.
the building. Chances are you will end up with an
Identified tasks need to
enormous number of things that need to be done.
be prioritized and costs
and timelines attached
to them. Some items
Setting goals is critical once you have figured out the
areas where you would like to reduce consumption
be done first, such as replacing an appliance that
and it is the only sure way to ensure the success of
has come to the end of its useful life. Others can
your sustainability program. Next you will need to have
be implemented in steps or stages to reduce the
quantifiable measurements that will show you how you
will obviously need to
While energy-saving, environmentally sound
WILL WE SAVE MONEY?
measures abound, for most operators the
Regardless of how good it is for the customer,
simplest path is to start with the easiest or least
employees and the environment, every owner
expensive and move up to the more involved
wants to know if sustainable measures actually
projects. Each new system can be tweaked so it
work. Many food service businesses have shied
runs smoothly in the operation before introducing
away from change as they believe that the costs
something new again. Another option is to tackle
are just too high.
the projects that you believe will have the most
positive return on your investment. If you water
As suggested previously, the negative implications
bill is through the roof, look at trying all the water
of not going green are growing every day.
saving measures you can first.
Growing changes in customer tastes, increasing
governmental controls on waste and higher waste
removal costs all make sustainability a very viable
method of reducing costs. After all, the bottom
line is what determines if your doors will remain
open or you will join the ranks of failed service
businesses. Fortunately there are scores of case
studies proving that green measures not only
benefit the planet but your bank account too. Here
are three for you to look at.
DRIFT BISTRO, PEREGIAN BEACH,
BROADFIELD YOUTH & COMMUNITY
Broadfield Youth and Community Centre has reduced
Peregian Beach Surf Life Saving Club is home to
annual costs through improving energy and water
Drift Bistro; an “a la-carte” restaurant operating seven
efficiency and reducing waste. Energy efficient and
days a week. As part of its eco-efficiency drive, the
sensor controlled lighting and movement sensors were
club installed more efficient lighting and tapware in
fitted to automatically switch off toilet, corridor, reception
the restaurant and other club areas, and introduced
and external security lighting when no one is present,
composting. The club also initiated recycling at the
reducing usage by around 40% in each area. Sensors
Sunday market that it coordinates in a park adjoining
were also installed to control urinal flush frequency.
Uncontrolled urinals can often account for 70% of an
organisations water use. Placing Save-a-Flush bags
in toilet cisterns has reduced water usage. Paper
Energy savings of 59,329 MJ (8 per cent)
towels have been replaced by hand dryers. Even with
Potable water savings of 438 kL (28 per cent)
increased electricity costs a substantial savings was
Waste reduction of 13 m3 (12 per cent)
seen and over a tonne of landfill waste was eliminated.
Waste-water reduction of 382 kL (28 per cent).
Financial savings totalled $5,319
Electricity: 18,750 kWh, £1,875
Waste: 1.08 tonnes, £2,500
Water: 538 m3, £958
CO2: 11.46 tonnes
Financial savings totalled £5,300
DARDEN RESTAURANTS, US
The IHRA (International Hotel and Restaurants
Association) Sustainable Hospitality Program 2020
sustainability in action, take a look at Darden
annual average savings is
US $19,600 per property that can be made
Restaurants’ sustainability report 2012.
from better energy and resource management. That
is money that you are currently throwing away in
downloads/2012-gri-full.pdf. With 1,600
one form or another.
If you want to see an award-winning leader in
states that the
restaurants in the US and over 180,000
employees Darden’s approach to sustainability is
Clearly, businesses that act now will be ready to
systematic and cost effective. Their report sums it
handle whatever legislative changes come their
up when they say:
way, they will save money that their competitors
are throwing away and they will have a competitive
Our commitment to sustainability is
marketing edge too.
a central part of achieving our larger
purpose..... We have worked to develop
a more integrated and strategic approach
to managing sustainability issues in our
business knowing that we fundamentally
rely on natural resources.
Studying Darden’s report it is clear that big
business has embraced sustainability because
they have absolutely proven in works for them now
MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS
Naturally you will want to monitor your progress
carefully. There are several elements that are
essential to tracking how you are doing with
your new measures. Your management will not
only need to know what things they will need to
change but how the end result will be measured.
Successful projects follow these common standards.
and in the future.
Choose a limited
your managers. They should know why it is not
set of effective
working and what might be done to change it.
Once you are certain that everyone knows what
Trying to do
and when to use the new procedure or equipment,
too much too
move on to another change.
quickly is not a
good idea for
Establish a schedule
for regular reporting
Reporting on progress can be as simple as getting
takes time and
everyone together for a monthly staff meeting or
energy and if
as frequent as daily tracking sheets. When you
too many things are done at once then management
decide on a new measure make sure that your
will be faced with many additional tasks on top of
paper trail has been planned. All employees
their normal duties. These duties could include
should know who does what on which form and
reports, staff training, and changes to procedural
when. Staff meeting or workshops may be needed
manuals. Changing many things at once also adds
to get everyone up to par.
to confusion and an increased chance of errors.
To have reliable results reporting must be done
Try to implement one small measure at a time and
consistently. When you choose the length of the
monitor it to make sure it is being followed by all
reporting period is should remain the same for at
staff. If management encounters difficulties the
least one year so that results can be measured
measure may need to be tweaked so that it starts
against the original data you amassed. If your
to work towards the desired end result. Listen to
previous data was reported on a monthly basis it
Design everything with the new employee in
is recommended that consequent data follow the
mind. Include the title and departmental contact
same timeframe otherwise you may comparing
information so that if someone has a problem they
apples and oranges.
know where to go. Try not to use specific employee
names as these can change and then the user has
Regular reporting serves as a gauge to measure
no idea who to call instead. Directing the individual
how things are improving or not improving over
to a department will help to cut through red tape in
time. Leaving unfiltered data for too long can
a big organization. This will also reduce rewrites in
mean a huge mess to sort out and unnecessary
procedural manuals or bulletins.
revenues lost if the new measure is not performing
are meeting at least the minimum expectations for
Establish procedures for
acting on problems identified
If management or other employees discover a
as expected. Keep on top of it and adjust until you
Develop report formats to
problem they need to know what to do. This is
particularly true when new equipment is purchased
to reduce waste or improve efficiency in an area.
Keep the information in your forms and reports
New equipment normally requires large cash outlays
simple and clear. Everyone should be able to look
and a lot of revenue goes towards installation,
at the form and know precisely what information
retrofits and staff training. If the machinery is not
is required. Avoid industry jargon or complex
working as expected, employees should know
language whenever possible. Remember that
what to do. Every day that things are not working
your forms or reports may be used by a wide range
correctly is lost revenue. For large operations this
of people with various education, language and
can mean a huge loss in just a few hours.
Contact information can be as simple as a telephone
You will want to
number on the machinery or a manual with specific
have a balance
steps to follow. Emergency procedures need to be
in place from the user to management so something
key aspects of
can be done immediately. Make sure there is
secondary contact information as well. If employees
are authorized they may be able to call service
companies to the site for repairs.
Assess sustainability on a periodic basis
on your management. You should see a steady
Collecting information through reports, forms,
improvement in the areas where you have
meeting and conversations is an ongoing process.
implemented change. Make sure you translate
your waste reductions into revenue. Keep staff
Track how staff reacts to the changes and log
members in the loop regarding improvements in
resource changes as new invoices arrive. If the
waste reduction. They need to know that what they
changes you have made are ineffective find out why.
are doing is making a difference. They are the key
Are employees avoiding the change as they have
to the success of all your waste reduction plans and
not been trained properly? Has a new container
the need to motivate them to participate is of primary
been put in the wrong location? Are people short-
cutting around the method because they do not see
implemented in our improvement process, or have
ENGAGE YOUR STAFF
the processes started to erode? Are the outcomes
Before you can get your staff to participate, show
the processes are intended to affect moving in the
enthusiasm and maintain waste reduction changes
the purpose? Are we still using the new processes
in the workplace you must have a solid vision and a
strategy in place for your business. Employee’s need
to know what direction your establishment is taking
and how they fit into the picture. This is fundamental
to the success of your entire program because it can’t
be done without dedicated workers.
Green programs are often started by enthusiastic
employees who establish a committee and take the
such as daycares or gymnasiums. Once you have
your corporate sustainability vision in place you can
now focus your energies on understanding what
sustainability means to your staff.
There are many ways to find out what your workers
want and one of the best ways is to ask them. Surveys
initiatives on themselves. Green teams are a regular
feature in businesses’ sustainability strategies. They
will organize and plan and report to management
about that they see as the businesses’ needs. In the
beginning, a basic green program may be nothing
more than buying a few recycling bins and nagging
workers to use them. Facilitating employee-led
initiatives is an excellent way to show initial support.
Employee awareness can also be developed through
informal staff meetings, newsletters and discussions.
However, a comprehensive sustainability program is
much more. Successful green businesses not only
focus on waste reduction but a better workplace for
their employees including better benefits, flex time,
equipment for telecommuting and on-site facilities
not only allow you to poll your employees about
sustainability issues but you also have an opportunity to
find out about their attitudes, likes and dislikes.
Many businesses conduct surveys asking workers
to identify what they see are the important things
that could be done to reduce waste. These surveys
are also a great way to narrow down what staff
members consider worthwhile results of a good
Your employees are the ones on the frontlines and
sustainability program would be. Issues such as full-
they know more about your business than you
time employment status, better healthcare plans or a
know. Bringing workers into planning process is a
clothing allowance are all rewards that can be used
wonderful way to ensure success. Employees that
to motivate workers to get with the program. Tangible
have made suggestions that are later implemented
benefits aren’t always expensive for the company but
know that their opinion counts for something. They
they are extremely important to the workers as they
can monitor progress when a change is put into
make them feel valued. Employees that are happy
action and suggest methods of altering a method if it
at their jobs perform
is not working well enough.
better and therefore
something sounds feasible or not. Barging ahead
with your own ideas without bringing staff together
revenues. This cycle
is not only arrogant but bad business. Modern
of benefit works for
business models embrace employee input and
all parties involved;
many companies have made huge revenue savings
the company saves
from the staff suggestion box.
money, the harm to
Brainstorming sessions are the latest version of
the environment is reduced and employees feel more
the suggestion box. They are free-for-alls where
involved and loyal to the company plus they know
everyone just throws their ideas in the pot. There
that they are helping to protect the planet. They are
cannot be any judgement no matter how crazy an
then eager to take on new change as they have seen
idea might sound but if someone does have a good
positive results in the past.
In short, they will be the ones that will know if
idea steer the energy in the room towards it. Have
a whiteboard or blackboard available and write it all
as their commitment as a company to reduce waste.
down. Nearing the end of the session go through a
It is the primary way those employees know, other
reduction process and get the ideas down to a few
than monetary compensation, that they are valued.
strong suggestions. Summarize the results and let
If the company is willing to invest time and money
workers see how this information is absorbed into
in their improvement they feel loyal towards their
your action plan.
Not all training takes place in a classroom.
Training employees may well be the most important
Growing methods of training are work shadowing
factor in guaranteeing the success of your
or mentoring. Both of these techniques require
sustainability program. In order for training to be
a seasoned employee to instruct a new inductee
effective it must be tailored to the individual and
in the subtleties of the position and because they
appropriate for the savings measure. Sustainable
are on the frontline together they can incorporate
businesses take training very seriously as untrained
sustainability measures right from the start.
employees waste resources and consequently waste
If an employee is indoctrinated into green measures
revenues. Considering the high costs involved in
during the training period they will consider it a part
food service equipment and staffing the money spent
of their normal job and there will be no problem
on appropriate training is never wasted.
with waning enthusiasm over time. They will take
Training can be as simple as calling everyone
responsibility and will be accountable for their
together and showing them how to load the new
dishwasher or as complex as sending them on
intensive, costly off-site courses. Regardless of the
level of resources required, training serves to show
small groups can be instructed at one time. They
the company’s commitment to the employee as well
Workshops within the company are also popular as
are very participatory and the attendees must work
towards a specific solution by the end of the workshop.
As the workers actually must do the work they are
more likely to retain what they learn and understand
why it is important. Workshop leaders can be those
within the company already doing this type of work so
into easy to use modules to allow work and study
to mesh. Information may have visual, audio and
hands-on components as it has been proven that
retention is higher when varied methods are used.
Employees can qualify for higher positions as they
advance through the company’s training plan and
obtain certificates or degrees in house.
Many businesses will reimburse employees for
courses taken at community colleges or universities
if the course will help the employee attain a better
position. Employee reviews now include the vision
the employee has for their future in the company
and steps to help them achieve it. Helping workers
become better at what they do is a win-win situation
they can answer specific questions and pose unique
industry challenges for attendees to solve. The days of
the boring classroom course is falling by the wayside.
The food service industry is seeing more internet-based
instruction now too. Trainees log onto a company
server and walk through a course step-by-step and from
anywhere they wish to study. Work is normally divided
as employees stay longer at their jobs. The high
cost of indoctrinating staff makes efforts to make
staff happy even more sensible.
Ultimately, the challenge for businesses is finding
ways to continuously re-engage employees
on sustainability. Clearly this is a lot easier if
each of your employees has a reason to do so.
Thriving modern business invest resources in
substantial recognition and awards programs too.
These rewards aren’t necessarily monetary. Some
pioneered the standards for green restaurants. Their
employees are motivated by the opportunity to
website is full of useful information to help you make
use the hours
your business green. http://www.thesra.org/
The NSW Sustainability Toolkit – Hospitality is an
excellent publication which outlines all of the major
areas necessary to address the reduction of waste
in your business. http://www.nswbusinesschamber.
realize that there
is a high cost
if one does not
Unilever Food Solutions offers a free toolkit for the food
invest in their
service industry complete with sample forms and reports
you can use to start tracking wastage. http://www.
who are unhappy
else to work and
constant staff turnover means higher expenses and
The Green Restaurant Association provides excellent
lower customer satisfaction.
information on how to establish a long-term plan for
waste reduction in order to receive green certification.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association are leaders
Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry - Principles
in providing information on sustainability and have
of Sustainable Operations, 2009: Philip Sloan,
Willy Legrand and Joseph S. Chen. http://www.
programs available in your area. Governments offer
many incentives to help business go green because it
is in their best interest as well.
Sustainable Food Service provides industry specific
Colleges, universities and many service industry
information on food service issues such as fats, oils
organizations now offer many sustainability
and grease as well as kitchen equipment. http://www.
An excellent step-by-step online program for
establishing sustainability work practices http://
Green Table Australia offers a green certification
program to help restaurants on the path to
programs and training. Training staff to manage your
resources well makes good business sense and it will
If you are anticipating that you will have to purchase
undoubtedly be a requirement in the future.
new equipment, do retrofits for sustainability or will
be building new structures in the future make sure
that check for local and national grant and subsidy
WHAT SHOULD I
CHANGE IN MY BUSINESS?
Even though we are all involved in the food service
industry it scope is large and there are many different
types of business within it. Your business may face
challenges that are unique to your specific segment of
the cost thus reducing the initial production cost of the
oil, the transportation costs for shipping and the waste
removal costs for bulk recycling.
These restaurants also face the formidable challenge of
presenting their takeout food in an attractive manner that
does not involve petroleum-based containers or large
amounts of packaging. The push towards packaging
made from renewable
resources is stronger than
ever and makes good
long-term business sense.
has dropped in price so
expense is not the issue
today. Often we stick with
what is familiar rather than
exploring new options.
Quick service restaurants may find that they need to
find new technologies to help them deal with the oil or
fat from deep fryers. While oil collection at restaurants
is quite commonplace nowadays, new technologies
exist that recycle grease and oil on site for a fraction of
The chain restaurant
business model must deal
with evaporating profit margins due to competitive price
wars. Growth in the fast food industry is guided more
and more by the fact that 80 percent of consumers want
healthy food that tastes great and fits into their budget.
Conversely, a high-end gourmet restaurant may
income and dine out less frequently. In a very elite
waste many resources because of its exacting
market the loss of just a few percent of patronage can
standards. Meat and produce must be of the best
have disastrous consequences.
quality and anything less is loss. Many top end
restaurants are now implementing strategies to use
In college and business cafeterias and buffets, large
off cuts for sauces and stocks, sourcing meat, fish
menus mean large wastage. Many cafeterias have
and poultry from sustainable sources and limiting
eliminated trays so people can only take one plate.
their menus to reduce the quantity of ingredients
required in their kitchen. On-site gardens and
Regardless of what type of food service industry you
dehydrating equipment ensure fresh vegetables and
participate in there are ways to reduce waste. Below
fine dried herbs for even the best cuisine.
are some changes or additions for you to consider in
your business. Since you are the one tackling this
High-end restaurants face the very real problem that
challenge you should also have a very good idea of
their customers do not have as much disposable
what will work in your business. The ideas provided
here are just a starting point and more help is always
available through local, regional or federal authorities.
Some areas have representatives that will visit your
business and provide you with a written report with all
of their recommendations.
No two businesses will be the same so it is important
you develop a written plan with specific components so
that your efforts do not go off track or lose momentum.
practical than a large complicated one. You cannot
In- House Changes
Better stock management, menu flexibility, portion
sizes, seasonal awareness and many other elements
need to be addressed when one wishes to reduce
waste in a food service business.
A growing nexus of restaurant and food service
entrepreneurs are filling the gap between restaurant
chain offerings and what the customer wants by offering
Spending extra time to analyze the trends in customer
consumption is well worthwhile. Proper forecasting
helps you to assess what items are sold more than
others and if the items on your menu are worth
keeping. Forecasting also takes in account seasonal
your menu and
tend to eat less
heavy foods in
the summer and
more substantial meals in the winter. Wise business
owners analyze their menu items and remove items
that cost too much to make or do not turnover quickly
enough. A small well-prepared menu is far more
please everyone so try to do what you do well.
at an affordable
price. In a food
market that has
been subject to
are flourishing and
winning eco-conscientious diners as a result.
A recent trend has been to reduce portion size for meals
because so much ends up in the waste bin. Many
food service businesses employ a technique known as
the “Delboeuf Illusion”. This involves putting smaller
portions on smaller plates, thus creating significantly
less kitchen and plate waste, without causing the
Besides normal procedures such as stock rotation,
menu planning and smaller portions, business
owners need to engage their employees as soon
as possible in their
Starting up a green
team is a good way
to initiate change
as employees are
customer to feel cheated about their serving of food.
Try to offer different portion sizes to cater to a variety
of appetites. Selling a portion bigger than one can eat
costs you money. Not only does a good part of your
raw material end up but you must pay labour to box
it and purchase takeout containers too. You can also
offer second portions as an alternative to putting too
much on one plate. Only the biggest eaters will take
advantage of this offer.
Make customers aware of the part they can play in
reducing food waste – promote your good work and set
an inspiring example.
included and they are
also the ones that see
could be made. Post
signs have informal staff meetings and train staff in
new equipment and procedures.
Focus on Stock Control
Fine-tuning your menu and ordering process
includes considering how much storage you have
and how quickly your food stuffs will be used. High
stock levels mean money sits in your cooler or
pantry rather than in your bank account. Too much
stock can also mean items will spoil before they can
be used. Limiting
Reduce Preparation Waste
the ingredients used
Good menu planning includes considering
in your menu is a
preparation time and the waste involved. Try to
good way to prevent
serve vegetables with skins or jackets on where
this. Even if one item
possible as this reduces labour and parings.
does not sell, another
containing the same
Try to re-use what
you initially thought
of as scrap by
implementing them in
Many new technologies and products are available
other products. Meat
today that can help you to reduce the amount of
off-cuts can be used
waste that ends up in the landfill.
for stews or pates.
Bits of fruit can be
There are compostable,
used for fruit salad or fruit coulis. Tired vegetables
make great soup stock. Try to utilize every part of
made from renewable
the food possible.
resources that can
reduce your carbon
footprint. Check out
Work with suppliers to get produce delivered
on the right day for your menu. Keeping large
for some cutting edge
Zero Waste Systems
quantities of food on-hand to meet demands is not
only costly but risky.
Make sure items are stored correctly, perishables
are properly labelled and dated and that staff use
It makes good economic sense to sort waste
proper stock rotation techniques. First in, last out
correctly the first time. Investigate what the local
is the rule-of-thumb in the industry. Try to use
requirements are regarding types of waste and
reusable glass containers rather than petroleum-
set up your bins accordingly. Make sure staff
based plastic or plastic film wrap for storage. Check
uses the bins correctly and that food waste is
and correct fridge temperature and clean fridges
separated into the appropriate bins.
regularly to ensure they are working efficiently.
Do not send organic food waste to the landfill.
Do not prepare large quantities of food ahead of
Set up an on-site composting area or arrange for
time. Try to make items on demand. Get wait staff
collection to a composting or anaerobic digestion
to “up sell” dishes that contain items that will be
facility. Purchase an in-house digester.
going out of date soon.