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3 ways operators are innovating with sustainability

Restaurants have been making moves to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable for years now, and the same old tricks aren’t making waves anymore—everyone knows that the greenest ways to do things involve local produce, sustainable seafood and minimal packaging.

To continue pushing the bar forward, though, restaurants can still make moves to clean up their operations. Check out these three ways that operators are answering consumers’ call for increased sustainability.

Increasing and expanding plant-based or plant-forward menus

Vegetable-centric eating is undeniably better for the environment. Whether most consumers will ever adhere to a strict vegetarian diet is less certain, but for less impact on the planet, plant-forward cuisine can help. Menuing less meat is not only a great cost-cutting measure, but it also helps curtail the effects of greenhouse gasses as well.

With increased consumer interest in plant-forward foods, operators have an opportunity to boost sales. Global cuisines that highlight vegetable-based dishes are on the rise, and vegetarian substitutes are making big waves. And according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report, more consumers now than in 2014 are eating plant-based foods not only to be healthy, but also because they are sustainable.

Utilizing energy-efficient equipment

Starting up a restaurant is an expensive endeavor, but it’s important not to cut costs at the sacrifice of sustainability within the kitchen. Installing kitchen equipment such as energy-efficient refrigerators and dishwashers is key to increase an operation’s “green” factor. Newer machinery may come at a higher up-front cost, but longevity of use and cost-savings, as well as water and electricity conservation, generally more than make up for it.

Slashing food waste

Whether it’s scraps left behind during kitchen prep or uneaten leftovers, food waste within restaurants is a big deal. As portion sizes swell to ever-larger plates, more food gets left behind at every meal than ever. While consumers are conditioned to seeing packed-full plates when they dine out, operators can help cut down on foods waste in a few ways.

Utilize scraps in alternative ways—vegetable peels can be turned into stock, for instance—and reduce the size of the portions served. This can be done easily, and if plates shrink a bit, consumers won’t take any issue with the smaller offerings. For instance, instead of using a 10-inch dinner plate, consider using an 8- or 9-inch dinner plate.

Ken’s Foods as a sustainability partner

Ken's Foods is a recipient of a 2017 Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an honor that’s reflective of the company’s overall commitment to sustainable initiatives.

The company has so far driven substantial results by focusing on two primary areas: repurposing food waste to reduce its use of electricity and natural gas, and reducing emissions used in operations and logistics.

Ken’s operates an on-site waste water treatment facility, which is the world's largest anaerobic membrane bio-filter. It processes Ken’s waste stream by digesting and breaking down production waste into methane gas and solid waste.

In 2016, Ken’s Foods began repurposing the methane emissions by commissioning a co-generation system that utilizes both natural gas and methane or bio-gas. Ken’s utilizes a blend of 70% bio-gas and 30% natural gas to generate about 7 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and uses about 17,280 million BTUs of heat recovery for steam and hot water for its Massachusetts production facility. This system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 342 tons per year once fully optimized, savings equivalent to removing 72 cars from the road.

Ken’s has been a member of EPA's SmartWay for over a decade and seeks fuel-efficient carriers for both inbound and outbound freight. SmartWay partners carry 94 percent of Ken’s Foods outbound products, and Ken’s plans to increase its concentration of freight assigned to carriers with higher SmartWay scores. 

Ken’s is committed to meaningful initiatives that help reduce its environmental impacts and demonstrate its commitment to sustainability.  

This post is sponsored by Ken's Foods Inc.

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