August 10, 2018

More restaurants are sustainable, survey says

National Restaurant Association research has found that more restaurant and foodservice operators are integrating sustainability practices into their daily business operations. A survey of 500 restaurant owners and operators examined measures taken, challenges faced and opportunities available by operating more sustainably. Here are some highlights:

  1. Efficient equipment is now standard in many restaurants. Most restaurants use energy-efficient lighting, and many use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star®-rated kitchen equipment. Water-saving innovations are also gaining ground, from low-flow toilets to efficient pre-rinse spray valves. Those surveyed said:
  • 79 percent use CFL or LED lighting.
  • 46 percent use EPA Energy Star-rated refrigerators.
  • 44 percent use low-flush toilets.

2. Restaurant operators are recycling and focused on packaging. Large majorities of restaurant operators engage in recycling. Most restaurant operators source at least some packaging and supplies made of recycled content. Among respondents:

  • 65 percent recycle cardboard and paper.
  • 64 percent recycle fats, oils and grease.
  • 29 percent recycle aluminum or metal cans and rigid plastics.
  • 26 percent recycle glass.

3. Reducing food waste is an emerging area for action. Tracking food waste, donating unused leftover food and composting materials are among the more popular practices restaurateurs are adopting to decrease waste. According to the survey:

  • 47 percent track food waste.
  • 22 percent donate leftover food.
  • 14 percent compost food waste.

The survey also found that restaurateurs think sustainability is a mainstay on menus. Environmental sustainability, local sourcing and food waste reduction are some of the top trends influencing restaurant menus. As operators and consumers increase their knowledge about how and where food is produced, menus are evolving to reflect the growing request for transparency. One big takeaway: the most effective way for a restaurant to promote its sustainability efforts is on its menu, consumers say.

Download The State of Restaurant Sustainability 2018 to learn more about restaurant sustainability.