With the rollout of vaccines, people around the country are beginning to feel more comfortable venturing back out into the world. Part of this, of course, includes diners returning to their favorite restaurants to enjoy a brief respite from the stress of the past year.
As exciting as this is for the food industry, restaurant and food service operators must remain committed to the changes their customers have come to expect. While health and safety have enjoyed most the of the recent spotlight in this regard, a business’ environmental footprint and sustainability efforts remain important.
While the concept of adding “sustainable” to the list of mandatory qualities a business must possess can seem daunting for many cash-strapped operators, the reality is that this is not a choice. If the simple notion of doing your part to protect the planet isn’t enough motivation, consider the fact that customers committed to safeguarding the environment vote with their wallets. Upping one’s green commitment can even result in money saved. Reduced energy and water consumption lead to lower utility bills and using items like controlled napkin and paper towel dispensers reduce the volume of supplies purchased.
Luckily there are many resources available to aid establishments in navigating this initiative. Because we know that sustainability initiatives are not one-size-fits-all, the experts at Imperial Dade make it a point to sit down with each business to discuss their goals and vision. We then break everything down into what can be implemented immediately and what will take a bit more time. Our experts pull together the different puzzle pieces needed to make the customer’s vision a reality and put their sustainability program together efficiently and methodically.
As I mentioned earlier, making a push for sustainability isn’t synonymous with increased costs. Operators would be surprised by how many aspects of their business could be changed for the better in ways that simultaneously reduce costs. My biggest piece of advice when creating a sustainability program is to look at it holistically and strike a financial balance that makes sense to you. Imperial Dade can help operators identify exactly what changes can be made that offset the increased costs of others.
In addition to implementing green practices, it is important to share your efforts with your customers. The focus on sustainability will regain mindshare as we emerge from the pandemic and customers will once again hold businesses to higher standards. And, if these standards are not met, the customers will dine elsewhere. Be sure to communicate not only sustainable efforts visible to the public but share what you’re doing behind the scenes as well. You can tell your story in a number of ways. Print the messaging on your takeout bags and napkins or post the information on websites and social media. Educate your staff so they are involved in the program and can explain the initiatives to guests.
For restaurants looking for a simple starting point, green cleaning is a good option. Changing to sustainable cleaning supplies is cost neutral and can even result in cost savings. Businesses can start by working with their distributor to choose cleaning chemicals that have a reputable third-party green certification. Imperial Dade also offers chemical mixing stations that can be installed in the back of the house. This equipment allows for automatic mixing of highly concentrated chemicals and water which has cost, safety, and environmental benefits.
Although many people in the past have questioned whether or not green and safe can co-exist, the takeaway for any business should be that they certainly can, and in fact often go hand in hand. Being environmentally conscious can lead to the same results that being safety-oriented does. Examples include the proper use of chemicals improve indoor air quality and reduce the spread of illnesses, installing touch-free, controlled-usage dispensers in bathrooms to improve hand hygiene and decrease waste, and the careful selection of packaging to ensure food integrity while lessening the impact on the environment.
Today, customers’ expectations are higher than ever and investing in both safe and sustainable supplies and operations is a wise decision.