Posted by: Jay Bandy | September 28, 2018

The Present and Future of Recycling at Restaurants


Consumers seek out “Green Restaurants”

By: Guy Pittman

There is no questioning the positive impact recycling and waste reduction has on our environment. However, many are curious about the effect is has on their restaurant. Much debate has been circulating around whether the benefits of recycling and composting in restaurants outweighs the effort and expenses involved in the process. Nevertheless, in a growing environmentally conscience world, it is valuable to understand the benefits of both.

Believe it or not, the plastic straw debate is currently one of the trending topics in restaurant recycling. Although there is no concrete data on the exact number, multiple industry leaders suggest, Americans use up to 500 million plastic straws per day. The plastic straw debate has gained so much attention that places like Seattle and San Francisco are banning single-use plastic straws and other single use plastic products. Even Starbucks has started an initiative to completely eliminate the use of plastic straws by 2020. While Starbucks and a limited number of other restaurants are taking strides to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic straws, most restaurants have done nothing. For many, the concern with switching to an eco-friendlier straw is the price, durability, and overall impact on the quality of each drink. However, brands such as Melio Straws are proving that those fears may be just that, fears not fact. But do the costs outweigh the benefits?

What about reducing waste? It is nearly impossible for restaurants to avoid waste. However, there are steps that some are taking which reduce waste and improve restaurant operations. Tracking what areas of your restaurant produces the most waste is the first step managers should take. Lack of training in food preparation, dropping prepared dishes, inadequate cutting utensils, and poor inventory management are all contributors to restaurant waste. Taking initiatives like waste audits, allows restaurants to gain insights on waste generation and the most impactful steps that will begin reduction. Waste technologies have been developed which provide restaurants with the ability to track what recycling and waste management tactics are being followed and which ones need improvement. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. As landfills continue to grow and American waste management companies feel the heat from China’s Scrap Ban, restaurants will be expected to focus more attention on the first R, reduce. Reducing the amount of waste in restaurant dumpsters will increase operation efficiency and help avoid annoying fines from waste management companies. Composting is becoming more prevalent in restaurants. New research has shown that Americans are throwing away nearly as much food as they are eating and the EPA claims that 60-80% of trash that restaurants create is food waste. Checkout the Georgia Restaurant Association website for tips on composting.

Researchers have found that most Americans are serious about the importance of recycling. Data from the National Restaurant Association revealed that 60 percent of Americans prefer restaurants that recycle over those that do not. Research also revealed that 51 percent of consumers dining out would be willing to pay the extra costs to dine at restaurants that are eco-friendly. The proof is in the pudding and the customers have spoken. Recycling and waste management programs for restaurants can have expensive initial costs. Yet, the benefits of putting these programs in place can outweigh any initial expenses. Green initiatives provide multifaceted success results for your restaurant. At the very least you are improving the image and brand of your restaurant which will increase customer traffic. Consumers seek out “green restaurants” and will support them in their recycling efforts. Also, restaurants can cut costs in the long-run. Recycling programs will lead to cheaper trash expenses, reduced purchasing costs, and less fees from waste management companies.

To learn more about steps you can take to improve or implement a restaurant recycling program, contact us today at GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com. Visit our website at goliathconsulting.com for more information on our services.

Sources:
National Restaurant Association https://www.restaurant.org/Home
Starbucks https://news.starbucks.com/press-releases/starbucks-to-eliminate-plastic-straws-globally-by-2020
Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-recycling-companies-face-upheaval-from-china-scrap-ban-1533231057
Georgia Restaurant Assoication https://www.garestaurants.org/composting.html


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