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How to eliminate single-use plastic and other non-eco-friendly materials in facilities

Reuse Reduce
Photograph courtesy of Restaurant Technologies, Inc.

From food waste to trash and power usage, the foodservice industry can be a wasteful business. And as companies in other industries work to reduce their environmental footprint, can foodservice follow suit?

Organic gardens, solar power and locally sourced food options all represent examples of positive change that facilities can make. However, they can be situational. After all, not every facility has access to a year-round plot they can use.

There are a few eco-friendly improvements that every foodservice business can implement to reduce their environmental impact without significant expense.

Encourage staff and customers to recycle

By now, everyone is familiar with “the three Rs”—reduce, reuse, recycle—bbut there’s a good chance staff and customers are throwing away items that can be recycled or trying to recycle items that can’t. Avoid unnecessary waste as well as “wishcycling”—which is aspirational recycling—by adding recycling bins, clearly labeling them and educating (use signage!) on what items can be recycled. By making it easy and convenient for staff and customers, there will hopefully be a shift in recycling and eco-friendly practices. If recycling pickup is not part of the existing waste management program, operators may need to either find a volunteer in the community or enlist a staff member to collect the recycling and drop it off at the closest recycling center. A tip: try to find someone who’s especially enthusiastic about green issues, because then, they may not mind making the trip.

Eliminate single-use plastic

Single-use plastic is a big problem. This includes plastic bags, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging—most of which can only be used once and cannot be recycled. To reduce an operation’s environmental footprint, consider making easy switches like replacing plastic drink stirrers with bamboo stirrers, or replacing disposable coffee cups with reusable, washable porcelain mugs when possible.. When it comes to the back-of-house, an automated bulk cooking oil system eliminates single use plastic JIBs as well as the cardboard waste from entering landfills. It can also help reduce the amount of wasted residual oil left in containers, which could be costing more than expected (to the tune of upwards of $500 per year!).

Swapping straws

When it comes to reducing a facility’s environmental footprint, every little bit helps, even down to the last straw. More than 500 million straws are used in the United States every single day, and many will be thrown away without ever being opened. Consider making a switch to biodegradable or paper straws to reduce that footprint. Biodegradable straws have the advantage of being cost-effective and performing similarly to traditional straws. This means that biodegradable straws are not only seen as being environmentally friendly, they’re friendly to an operator’s budget as well.

Improving the environmental impact

Successfully reducing waste is a similar strategy to improving a company’s profitability. There is no one-step, fix-all solution. Instead, it’s the small adjustments made every day that will generate larger positive returns and keep business moving forward in this new, more eco-friendly environment. For more information about sustainability in facilities and back-of-house, visit our website at www.rti-inc.com.

This post is sponsored by Restaurant Technologies