Every business is in an individual position when it comes to adopting and implementing eco-efficient practices. Your business may be just beginning this process, while others, already benefiting from incorporating initial, easy-to-apply strategies and procedures, are now prepared to implement the next level to achieve further gains.
Restaurants are increasingly considering environmental performance as part of their planning and operational procedures. Adopting eco-efficient business practices will not only benefit the environment, but will also improve business operational efficiency and reduce costs.
This guide outlines practical measures that can be used to improve eco-efficiency in your restaurant.
How to go about it
The first step in improving the eco-efficiency of your business is to establish a baseline for your current practices. This usually involves conducting an audit or eco-efficiency audit.
Follow the suggested steps to eco-efficiency for guidance on eco-efficiency improvement.
As part of your planning process, you should check your current energy and water use, as well as a number of other specific areas shown below. A range of actions to improve efficiency is suggested, including easy, low-cost strategies as well as those that require some investment.
Energy: Restaurants operate air-conditioners, many lights, dishwashers and cooking equipment, all of which consume energy. Heating water for cleaning also consumes a lot of energy. Implementing strategies that reduce energy consumption, for example, running air-conditioners at the most energy efficient settings can reduce operational costs significantly.
Water: Traditionally, restaurants use a lot of water for cleaning and dishwashing. Many new dishwashers require significantly less water and new developments in technology, equipment and cleaning processes now offer low-water options.
Waste: Packaging in all forms is one of the biggest waste products generated in restaurants, along with waste heat and detergent-polluted water. Other waste products include detergent polluted water and waste heat.
Any ongoing relationship with commercial waste removal companies will enable you to obtain a record of actual waste generated. Also, record quantities of waste you dispose of yourself. Assess the quantities and different types of waste you generate and the disposal methods.
Chemicals: A priority for every restaurant is to make sure they are clean and hygienic. To achieve this, operators have often had to use chemicals that have a significant impact on both the environment and staff. In recent years, new options have emerged that provide good results with much-reduced, or even no, impact.
Suppliers: List the materials you receive regularly from suppliers, how they are delivered, and any other relevant information (e.g. how they are produced and packaged). Think about any aspect of the materials and supplies that may have an eco-efficiency impact and identify your priorities for action. Dealing with suppliers who operate eco-efficiently allows you to offer and promote a full eco-efficient service to your customers.
For more eco-efficiency tips go to the general guide.
What others are doing
A number of restaurants around the world have improved their environmental performance. Case studies about restaurants have been prepared that outline what other innovative owners are doing to build their green credentials and their businesses.
Who should be involved?
Both employees and management should be involved if you want to improve your environmental performance and reduce your operational costs. Tell your customers about your green strategies and achievements. Your efforts for the environment may be the extra persuasion that customers need to use your business over a competitor’s.
Read more about who to involve.
Who can help?
Investing in new technology can be expensive. However, the savings you make will often pay for the technology in just a few years. Government assistance may also be available to help you in the uptake of more eco-efficient technology. The links listed in this section indicate what is presently available.
In Queensland, the cafe, restaurant and take-away sectors employ close to 70,000 people. The majority of these businesses employ fewer than 10 people, with strong competition in the sector and often relatively low profit margins.
Restaurants are operating in an increasingly competitive and regulated market, where the costs of energy, water and raw materials are rising. In recent years, the industry has had to deal with a number of setbacks: fewer customers and less average expenditure per person and table, as well as higher food prices due to droughts and floods across various states.
Factors affecting restaurant revenues include:
- changing trends in household income
- interest rate rises
- levels of inflation and unemployment
- competition from other venues serving food
- competition from other areas competing for household leisure dollars.
Overall, strong industry revenue is projected for 2010–11, as unemployment is expected to decrease. Profit margins are expected to increase but remain under pressure.
Reference: IBISWorld 2010, Cafes and Restaurants in Australia.