“Green” is the hottest word bouncing around these days in the restaurant industry. Terms such as organic, sustainability, energy efficient and eco-friendly are appearing as part of a restaurant’s culture. Years ago, green awareness was rarely a subject touched upon. Today, we hear about reducing the world’s CO2 emissions, sustaining endangered ocean species and saving more energy. The message has been clearly sent that it will take a joint effort between individuals and businesses to achieve these environmental goals. Currently there are 260 restaurants across the United States that are certified green restaurants.
The Green Movement
Large companies are realizing by increasing their green efforts they can make a difference. McDonald’s is a prime example who has made a commitment to operate a more eco-friendly business. Recently, the chain introduced a new fryer that uses 40 percent less cooking oil and 6 percent less energy than their current high efficiency fryers. Like McDonalds, Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment has seen first hand, small changes can significantly impact the environment. Ever since switching to reusable, washable cups for its 16,000 employees, the company buys 1.1 million fewer disposable cups a year. The company also recycles 50,000 gallons of cooking oil per year which is transported to a nearby pig farm.
Other large chains that have recently hit the news for its green movement effort is Dunkin’ Donuts. In September, the donut chain will open its first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified unit in Florida which will incorporate energy-efficient lighting, low flush toilets, the use of well water and insulated concrete foam walls to reduce air-conditioning use by 40 percent.
Setting the Standard
Jose Duarte is one restauranteur that has set the bar high for his eco-friendly restaurant. Chef and owner of Italian restaurant Taranta in Boston, Duarte is truly passionate about changing for the better that he blogs about his restaurant’s progress in becoming green. Duarte is no amateur when we talk about eco-minded practices. Taranta is already equipped with energy efficient lighting, water-conserving spray heads, tank-less water heaters and even delivery vehicles fueled by cooking oil. His kitchen has also implemented an aggressive recycling and food waste composting program that has reduced the restaurant’s garbage bill by 40 percent. Even the restaurant’s menu aims to encompass environmental practices by purchasing more organic local food products and by offering an organic wine list as well as organic espresso.
Duarte and his team are serious about what they do and practice. Here are some highlights from his composting and recycling program:
- Volume composted = 127,400 lbs per year
- Volume of recycled cardboard = 3.12 Tons per year
- Volume of co-mingled (mainly glass) recycling = 34,320 lbs per year
- Metric Tons CO2 Equivalent Saved = 66.10
- Gallons of Gasoline Saved = 6,336
Taranta has perhaps set the bar for restaurants going green. The fact that several restaurants are slowly introducing eco-friendly practices is a positive sign. One of the latest restaurants that have integrated an eco-friendly culture is Epic Burger, a premium burger concept in Chicago. This burger joint is more than about serving 100% organic beef burgers. Also regarded as a more “mindful burger”, Epic Burger uses only biodegradable cups and utensils, petroleum free packaging, energy efficient equipment and lighting and products that are sourced from areas requiring the lowest possible mileage. The result is a fresher and tastier burger in a clean environmentally friendly atmosphere.
Be Green is Smart Business
We can all learn a thing or two from Jose Duarte. Every small step can make a difference. Take initiative to change. The savings are significant. Adopting a green attitude is having a smart attitude.
Here is a video of Jose’s Veggie Oil Truck:
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