As restaurant and foodservice operators move towards how they will define their “next normal”, there are still a number of questions to be answered. Close to the top of the list is how to continue an on-going agenda of green and sustainable without taking their foot off the “safe and clean” gas pedal.
The good news is that clean and green go hand in hand. There are many cleaning products available that meet both needs, and they are effective and cost neutral. Among the strategies that we have found helpful for our Imperial Dade customers is to implement our Greensafe Program.
The Greensafe Program was developed in 2005 some 15 years before the pandemic. At first it focused on green cleaning for commercial facilities. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building certification standard was gaining momentum in the early 2000s and we anticipated a growing interest in green cleaning practices to support LEED and stakeholder interest. The initial launch of the Greensafe Program included site surveys, product reviews and recommendations, procedural training, and LEED certification support. Three years later, we began developing the foodservice focused Greensafe Program that addressed packaging and other supplies.
Through this program, restaurants are guided by Imperial Dade, which was the nation’s first Green Restaurant Association Green Certified Distributor, in creating a space that is both clean and safe for the environment using environmentally preferable or green products. We define an environmentally preferable, or sustainable, product as one that is designed and manufactured to minimize the adverse environmental impact of its production, distribution, consumption, and disposal.
The Imperial Dade process begins with listening to the customer and understanding their goals for their sustainability efforts. Are they seeking a certification or responding to regulations or consumer expectations? The restaurant’s current products are then reviewed, and a consultant works to identify options for more sustainable, or environmentally preferable, alternatives. Imperial Dade works with the most innovative manufacturers and there are often new products coming to market that can be presented.
Imperial Dade does offer training programs to help our customers understand the attributes of sustainable products, disposal pathways, and for cleaning products, proper use to ensure effectiveness and safety. The program also helps restaurants meet several 3rd party certifications, including LEED Certification, Certified Green Restaurant, GBAC, and WELL. The type and size of the operation will often dictate which certification is the most appropriate. There are also many state and local certification programs that are often managed by trade associations. Our consultants can help you understand the options and the process to meet the requirements.
The Greensafe program include two tracks for customers, one for facilities maintenance and one for foodservice. The process for the facilities maintenance customer begins with a site survey and product review including cleaning chemicals, towel and tissue products, cleaning tools, and equipment. We recommend alternative products that meet certain criteria including 3rd party certifications such as EcoLogo, Green Seal, Safer Choice, and those products that meet the EPA’s guidelines for recycled content. It is important for the custodial staff to understand that these products are not only safer for the environment but also safer for them. They are better for the planet and protect human health. Customers are also trained in proper use, to ensure that the cleaning is performed in a safe and effective manner.
On the foodservice side of the program, it is not a cut and dry as the facilities maintenance program. There are many more variables and more options. After the site survey and gaining an understanding of the operator’s needs, we look at things like local regulations and available disposal methods. For example, are opportunities to recycle packaging readily available or even better, opportunities for composting? Then we need to discuss the menu items. First and foremost, the packaging selected must function properly to maintain the quality and integrity of the food and ensure customer satisfaction. And of course, the budget is a key factor. With all the aforementioned information in mind, our specialist can make recommendations.
Another aspect of the Greensafe program that can be helpful for restaurants is access to reporting. Imperial Dade can provide green spend data that includes the percentage of purchases that meet certain criteria which is a requirement for certification programs. The program is also helpful for operators who want to track their carbon emissions and that of their suppliers. Through Imperial Dade’s partnership with Green2Sustainable, Imperial Dade tracks and can share data with customers for delivery related emissions.
For those who are looking to transition their cleaning and foodservice products and practices towards options that are more environmentally preferable, the Greensafe Program is a great place to start. More information on the program can be found online at the website.