4 Ways Restaurants can Increase Profits by Going Green
When it comes to green restaurants, the value to the Earth can be great, but green efforts can also have a positive impact on the bottom line. In making your restaurant green, there are a few categories that should be considered. Among the most important aspects of restaurant environmental friendliness are waste reduction, water efficiency, food choice, and energy use. Let’s take a look at how each one can improve the environment and your company’s bottom line at the same time.
1) Waste Reduction
Waste disposal is a large expense for many corporations, particularly restaurants. According to the Global Poverty Project, as much as 50% of food in the United States is wasted at some point in the production cycle, with some sources suggesting that as much as 20% of restaurant food is wasted. This means that restaurants are spending money on food that is not being served to customers, or that is not being eat by customers and is ending up in their trash bins. Given the high cost of trash removal, this leaves restaurants paying twice – once to buy food then once to get rid of the food. Obviously, this is a waste of money as well as landfill space, to say nothing of the garbage truck emissions.
By reducing waste, recycling and creating a sustainable business plan that looks at purchasing and other related choices, some restaurants have been able to reduce their waste by half! This often means having fewer trash pick-up days, in addition to less waste by weight, which equals big savings. Note, too, that in many areas there are companies who will actually pay a restaurant to take their used vegetable oil, which is then recycled into bio-diesel, a highly efficient and eco-friendly vehicle fuel. Be sure to look for bio-diesel production facilities in your area that may want your oil.
2) Water Efficiency
The average restaurant uses about 5,800 gallons of water a day (City of Tampa, n.d.). This water use is costly to the environment, as fresh water becomes more scarce, but it is also costly to the restaurant’s budget as municipal water treatment becomes more costly. What might surprise many restaurant owners is that while 50% of the water use occurs in the kitchen, as much as 35% of the water used in a restaurant occurs in the restrooms (City of Tampa, n.d.). This means that that a substantial water savings can be realized by installing relatively inexpensive fixtures such as low water usage or dual flush toilets and automatic shut-off sinks. According to one government study, a water efficient toilet can save a restaurant a full 16% off their water bill.
3) Food Choice
Going green for restaurants also means choosing sustainable, healthy foods. Choosing locally grown foods can result in a significant cost savings; often local foods are less expensive because of the reduced transportation costs. Additionally, buying locally helps encourage the economy in the vicinity of the restaurant. Choosing sustainable foods also means staying away from foods that are on any protected or endangered lists, specifically when it comes to fish and seafood. This can reduce costs to the establishment and the customers, and help the environment as well.
4) Energy Use
Of course, when it comes to using green efforts to save money, most people think immediately about energy use. Certainly, reducing energy consumption is one of the most obvious ways to help the environment while also saving money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star website, restaurants use 2.5 times the electricity of other commercial buildings – this means that food service establishments are in the best position to make use of energy saving tactics.
For most restaurants, about 35% of energy usage comes from food preparation, including running appliances (USDOE, n.d.). That means that choosing energy efficient appliances is a great way to reduce energy usage and save money. Additionally, choosing the correct cooking method can save money, it is important to know which appliances cook which items most effectively.
The next highest energy consumer in restaurants is the HVAC system, using about 28% of a restaurant’s energy. By using energy efficient heating and cooling systems, and being careful not to set the thermostat too cold, green restaurants can save as much as 10% of their electricity budget.
Moving into the Future
Becoming more efficient in the restaurant business is a globally responsible choice. But in addition to reducing emissions and waste in our world, green restaurants are more profitable.