How can restaurants be more sustainable?

Discover practical ways for restaurants to become more sustainable with our comprehensive guide. From sourcing sustainable ingredients to reducing waste and adopting eco-friendly practices, this guide provides tips to help restaurants reduce their environmental impact while also improving their bottom line.
Jamie Frew
Dec 2023
4 min read

According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), the number of people concerned about the environment has increased from 47% pre-lockdown to 65%. As a result, people are increasingly choosing restaurants based on their ethical and sustainable practices.

This consumer demand is driving change in the restaurant industry. We’re seeing a rise in zero-waste restaurants, plant-based menus, and more localised supply chains.

It’s no longer enough to serve good food and deliver excellent service. Restaurants need to prioritise eco initiatives.  But how can restaurants be more sustainable? Keep reading to find out how.

How restaurants can be more sustainable

Start small

Tackling sustainability can be a daunting task. So, we recommend breaking your goals down into small achievable tasks. For example, if you want to become a zero-waste restaurant, start by replacing paper napkins with linen ones.

Reduce food waste

According to the Green Restaurant Association, the average restaurant wastes between 25,000 and 75,000 pounds of food every year. 😬  Not only does food waste emit greenhouse gas emissions, but it is expensive for your business too.

But, the good news is you can reduce food waste and run a more cost-effective operation by using more local supply chains, designing a plant-based menu, and improving stock management.

We recommend using an inventory management system like Simple Order or MarketMan to reduce over-ordering and stay on top of stock levels.

Digitise your operations

You can also use tech to help you operate more efficiently and make paper and energy savings:

  • Cut down on paper: You could use a POS system, like Zettle to send digital receipts or move your menu online with Lightspeed. Or use a digital checklist tool (like Trail 😉) to run your operations online and save tonnes of paper from going to waste.
  • Reduce energy waste: Trail also integrates with Carbon Statement to help you make energy savings. Carbon Statement provides weekly energy use and carbon reporting. And Trail creates alerts and team reminders to switch off appliances, helping you save energy.

Not only does the above help reduce your environmental impact, but it also helps you save on business costs too. Find out how much you could save with Trail.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Food deliveries skyrocketed during the pandemic. This gave rise to an increase in the number of single-use plastics used for takeaway boxes, coffee cups, etc.

An important step to becoming a more sustainable operation is to reduce the amount of single-use plastics you use. If you think this might be impossible for your ‘to-go’ cafe or takeaway restaurant, take a leaf out of Caravan’s book: they use coffee cups with a unique interior lining that can be recycled.

Adapt your menu

Keep your menu seasonal. In-season produce is generally grown closer to where it’s sold, helping you reduce carbon miles. And improve the quality of your ingredients!

You could also try to reduce your carbon footprint by serving less meat.

Honest Burgers is a great example of how to do this well. The chain relies on beef as a staple for its menu; however, it prioritises sourcing high-quality, local beef. And in more recent years, it has integrated incredible plant-based burgers on its menu, proving it is possible to serve less meat without alienating your customers.

Switch to energy-efficient appliances

While there may be an up-front fee, you will make savings in the long term. Again start small; try switching to LED light bulbs. Then gradually tackle bigger kitchen equipment—Trail’s Carbon Statement integration can help you identify where you’re wasting energy and which applications to prioritise.

Feeling inspired to take action?

Remember, this is not an overnight process. But it’s going to benefit your business in the long term if you start thinking about it today.

Reduce paper in your digital operation

What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
"We rarely provide training to our guys, they just bought into the idea straight away. I love that I have a full visual of everyone's activity in front of me."
Katrin Toots
Compliance Manager
“It’s not a paper diary that’s covered in barbecue sauce. We have clarity over what’s done in our sites and are confident going into our audits.”
Jay Brown
“The EHO visited almost every site last year and every store was given a five star rating."
Jay Brown
Operations Chef
"We turned our Costa Checks and various compliance forms into regular tasks on Trail, which has contributed to some of the best scores we have had."
Delroy Daniels
Operations Director
"Our teams love it, it gives our managers of all levels absolute clarity on what they need to achieve every day."
James Brown
Operations Director

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