Archive for the ‘Reuse’ Category

The National Restaurant Association released its annual Kitchen Innovation awards last week, and not surprising the list is dominated with green innovations offering everything from green cleaners to energy efficiency. Not all the items are necessarily new to the market or new technology, but it appears that the commercial kitchen manufacturers have caught on that saving their customers energy and money is a good strategy.

My current favorites are the heat recovery systems on the Champion and Hobart dishwashers, and the Vegawatt system. I love the idea of capturing waste heat, which we tend to have a lot of in commercial kitchens, and making your own energy from waste products. I’m looking forward to a Mr. Fusion style system that uses not just waste oil, but all the kitchen and table scraps to power the lights.

Here is a list of the KI products that have some sort of green accolade:

Activeion Cleaning Solutions, LLC – The ionator EXP
A hand-held, on-demand power cleaner that converts tap water into ionized water — a powerful dirt-removing, bacteria-killing agent. When used as directed, the ionator EXP kills 99.999 percent of harmful bacteria without the use of toxic chemicals.

Champion Industries – E2series Flight with Quad Rinse
A unique linkage between the conveyor and the water flow control conserves water and energy use, as hot water input is reduced proportionately, when the speed of the conveyor is slowed.

Champion Industries – Heat Recovery Unit with Temp-Sure system
This innovation eliminates the need to pre-heat the final rinse water, to conserve energy, while the temp-sure system continually monitors outlet temperature and adjusts airflow to maintain the proper rinse temperature.

Henny Penny Corporation – iControl for Evolution Elite
The Gas Evolution Elite Open Fryer now offers the new iControl, which monitors all fryer activity. iControl provides the operator with data to improve oil usage, meet product quality standards, and continuously optimize frying operations.

Hobart Corporation – Ventless AM Warewasher
The Hobart AM Ventless eliminates the need for purchase and installation of a hood. It’s the first ventless door-type that recaptures water vapor, and condenses it, to heat the incoming cold water inlet for the final rinse cycle.

Middleby Corp. – Middleby Marshall Mini WOW Oven
This high speed conveyor oven with the Middleby Marshall patented energy-eye and motor sleep mode technology automatically powers down between uses and saves 30 percent in energy compared to prior models.

Vegawatt – Vegawatt Cogeneration System
Vegawatt is a fully automated and work-flow integrated energy cogeneration (CHP) system that generates on-site electricity and hot water for foodservice operations by using the waste vegetable oil from the fryers as a fuel source.

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Reusable Takeout

Author: Paul

Reusable Takeout ContainerA Calgary man named K.B. Lee recently launched an interesting website called TakeOutWithout.com. The site is creating a campaign to encourage diners and restaurants alike to reduce the amount of packaging they use in when ordering takeout.

TOWO asks people to reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging they take when getting takeout (think a stack of napkins), bring their own reusable containers, and change their dining habits. I assume the last one means eating out less, which since we’re in the foodservice business I’ll take to mean dine in rather than not eating out at all…

Though his idea nothing new, I like the concept – particularly the idea of bringing your own takeout container. This is great idea if someone is dining out, (or dining in rather) and has some leftovers they want to take home. If they have their own container for their own leftovers, it can be as big or dirty or cumbersome as they are willing to deal with. The restaurant never has to touch the thing. I’ve seen this done a lot by environmentally minded customers, but the whole concept relies solely on the customers. I would like to see some restaurants (particularly those that tend to have a lot of leftovers) encouraging their customers to bring their own containers for leftovers. Maybe offer them a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream for using their own containers. It’s a loss for the restaurant in terms of takeout containers saved versus ice cream lost, but it brings them back – maybe again and again.

One of the more dicey issues is using outside containers for the takeout food itself. A lot of restaurant owners don’t want outside containers in their kitchen, and for good reason. If the containers were not washed in a commercial dishwasher (which they weren’t) it’s a health code violation, and even if they were they would be contaminated by the time the container makes it back to the kitchen. The simple solution to this is to run the customer’s container through the dishwasher. Inevitably the dishwasher will already be running with other items so adding a piece of Tupperware doesn’t add any major labor to the process. Of course, this may take a little longer, but any customer that is willing to bring their own containers for takeout will be more than happy to wait an extra minute or two if you use their container.

I’ve also heard of restaurants plating the food on their own dishes then letting the customer transfer it to their own containers. This option is nice for the kitchen staff that doesn’t have to adapt to a countless variety of containers and avoids the health code issue, but does dirty an extra dish in addition to the difficulty of the customer transferring the food to their containers – more than likely in the entrance of the dining room.

Another option is to offer a reusable takeout container with a deposit. College campuses are starting to use reusable takeout containers, and it could work great for a lot of restaurant. Reusable containers and deposits won’t work for every takeout customer, but for regulars, office workers around the corner, or in campus situations (school or business) it is a great, sensible option.

Of course disposable containers are not going away, but sustainable restaurants should provide a greener option, and accommodate guests that wish to bring their own – maybe to go as far as to encourage and possibly compensate their guests for bringing containers from home for leftovers. It’s a small step, but they all add up.

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