By now, it should be news to nobody that sustainability has become a major issue for the foodservice industry. And whether you define that as embracing recycling, minimizing waste or supporting sustainable agriculture, the National Restaurant Association Show provides a wealth of information.
“The NRA Show is a great place for operators to learn about sustainability issues and get inspired to take action,” says Jeff Clark, program director for Conserve, the National Restaurant Association’s initiative dedicated to sustainability. “It’s important for operators to see and listen to other restaurant owners and understand what they are doing for sustainability and share best practices.”
Through a robust program of sustainability education sessions and the eco-minded Conserve Solutions Center product and services showcase, there’s much to gain. For attendees, learning sessions that explore the relationship between sustainability and profitability, minimizing food waste and sourcing sustainable seafood are a must-see.
Additionally, Saturday’s line-up includes a panel with experts providing advice on how restaurateurs can operate more sustainably. The panel will feature celebrity chef Rick Bayless of Top Chef Masters, winner of multiple James Beard Foundation award-winner and chef/owner of Frontera, Xoco and Topolobambo in Chicago.
Throughout the show, there will be a diverse selection of products on display in the Conserve Solutions Center, from 100 percent compostable foodservice packaging to high-quality water filters to reclaimed wood furniture for restaurant interiors. It is a diverse and eco-minded section of the Show floor, located in the South Hall.
And McCormick Place itself is a showcase for green initiatives. The West Building has attained LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and is the largest new construction facility in the country to be so certified. Its Farm-to-Fork rooftop garden provides the center’s foodservice provider, SAVOR…Chicago, with fresh produce. And in 2013, McCormick Place committed to offsetting 100 percent of the building’s energy use with renewable wind energy.
How attendees can stay green
The NRA Show can be overwhelming for any attendee. To keep it green this year, consider the following:
- Visit the National Restaurant Association booth’s Health, Wellness, and Sustainability area to learn about Conserve.
- Bring or pick up a reusable bag to collect your things and don’t load up on free swag (free vendor gifts from booths) unless you are actually going to read it, use it or eat/drink it. Try to minimize your personal waste footprint while at the Show.
- Recycle as much as possible by putting your waste in the appropriate bin on the street, at your hotel and at McCormick Place.
- Use the free Show buses to get to and from your hotel, rather than a cab. This is a very efficient way to travel to the Show each day.
- Consider offsetting your flight emissions with your airline provider, which you can usually do when you purchase your ticket (click a box at time of purchase). Usually it costs less than $20 for return flights in the continental U.S.
This post is sponsored by The National Restaurant Association®