I’m not sure what prompted the sudden surge, but there have been three different reports (one, two, three) published lately on the green awareness of foodservice operators. Two of the reports are from England and the third is from the US. The reports analyzed the perceptions and practices of restaurant owners and managers in regards to sustainability. The reports surveyed a wide range of restaurants from “Mom and Pop” diners to billion dollar multinational franchises and food product manufacturers. The affirming outcome of the studies is that restaurants are very interested in sustainability though they sometimes don’t practice it or know how to practice it. That bodes well for myself and all the suppliers and vendors offering green products, but signifies that we have a challenge ahead of us.
For me, it is great to see that people are getting it. For instance, 94% of respondents in the American study said they would invest in technologies that reduce their energy consumption.
Efficiency is and should be a major goal in sustainability initiatives, but I am little disappointed to see water conservation a distant thought to many questioned in the study. Energy is always in the media and minds of many, but one way or another we can produce endless amounts of energy. We will never run out of energy, maybe oil but not energy. Alternatively, water is the single most important finite resource on the Earth, and fortunately for the restaurant industry water conservation is one of the simplest and most cost effective green measures.
The major barrier to sustainability becoming second nature seems to be the perception that anything green means spending money – lots of money. On the contrary, many green options for restaurants come from simple changes in practices and procedures that cost little to nothing. Even with expensive upgrades the long-term savings in energy, water or waste hauling cost always make the investment worthwhile. The restaurant business is an industry to single digit profits, but the industry as a whole needed to see the light that pitching pennies today loses them dollar tomorrow.
All the studies show a great trend for our industry. We are moving in the right direction of acknowledging sustainable operations, but many of us still need a little prodding to get the ball rolling. If you or your company needs a kick in the pants to get on the right track, give me a call and I’ll help you get on track to sustainability.