Three ways restaurants can improve sustainability with Therma°
Reducing a restaurant's environmental impact
The food service industry has the potential to improve its impact on the environment through waste reduction drastically. Some apparent changes have received much media attention, like dine-in restaurant businesses leaning towards reusable items, such as washable linens instead of paper napkins. More takeout restaurant owners have also started using biodegradable substitutes instead of styrofoam containers and single-use plastics that end up in landfills, like plastic straws.
Restaurants have made these changes, but the trouble is that most restaurateurs aren’t running non-profit organizations. Biodegradable products, while environmentally friendly, are much more expensive than their plastic alternatives, and reusable products can also be costly in the short term. For example, linens, though made more cost-effective through reuse over time, can be a significant up-front investment in addition to the cost of cleaning and maintenance.
Though there are many ways to improve sustainability, Therma focuses on its commitment to addressing inefficiencies in the cold chain: real solutions that owners can implement into their restaurant sustainability practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and food waste but also save money!
Here are three examples:
1. Reducing food waste
You can perceive food waste as the cost of doing business in restaurants, but spoilage is a financial loss and an environmental hazard. According to research cited in Science magazine, pre-consumer levels of food waste account for ~3.75% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Because you have to discard food when it has not been stored correctly, food spoilage is a significant problem in restaurants. (An excursion defines improper storage into the food safety danger zone, where storage temperatures hover between 40°-140° F for two or more hours.)
Restaurants prevent this by assigning employees daily temperature checks using paper logs and traditional thermometers. However, pencil-whipping and after-hours breakdowns still occur and affect the integrity of the reports. Without quality data, spoilage can happen with little to no warning.
Along with ensuring you have accurate data on your food storage, you can also consider moving to a zero-waste cooking system where you’re using all parts of ingredients, leaving few or no scraps behind. It can take some planning, but using everything you buy keeps you from throwing away potential profits.
2. Rethinking your supply chain
All of the initiatives on this list involve rethinking your current processes, and your supply chain is no different. Taking a closer look at your current menu and making adjustments can have a considerable impact. In many cases, replacing some of the menu items you use year-round with seasonal produce from local farms or other local food sources like sustainable seafood is possible. Using locally sourced food products not only helps to grow the local economy but will improve the quality of your product!
Other ways to contribute to sustainability in the supply chain include donating leftover food to food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, and Title 1 schools. Community outreach is a great way to increase your restaurant’s visibility while building goodwill with potential customers. Try looking for local growers and donation sites on social media to connect with options in your area.
3. Monitoring your equipment and reducing energy usage
Restaurant operators compensate when refrigerators become old or unreliable by turning down equipment temperature to prevent food from moving into the danger zone. While this may prevent food spoilage, the increased energy usage raises carbon emissions and has a financial impact on the business.
Warming events in refrigeration equipment can also indicate broken compressors or punctured lines. These components are responsible for the movement of refrigerants throughout equipment as a whole. When one of the components becomes faulty, refrigerant leakage occurs and the chemicals released, especially those used in older refrigeration equipment, have global warming potentials 1,000-10,000 times higher than carbon dioxide.
While purchasing energy-efficient equipment can be an excellent step towards becoming a green restaurant, the expense might be prohibitive. If cost is a concern, you can take steps to reduce energy usage even with your existing hardware. For instance, having a temperature and humidity monitoring system in place can eliminate the need to over-cool, saving both wear and tear on existing equipment and even increasing the efficiency of new equipment.
Test Therma° in your stores
Without accurate temperature data, restaurants may over or under-cool their inventory. When refrigerators become unreliable or old, restaurant operators compensate by turning down equipment temperature to prevent food from moving into the danger zone. While this method may prevent food spoilage, the increased energy spend creates an environmental and financial impact on the business.
Warming events in refrigeration equipment can also be an indicator of broken compressors or punctured lines. These components are responsible for the movement of refrigerants throughout equipment as a whole. When one of these components becomes faulty, refrigerant leakage occurs. These chemicals, primarily used in older refrigeration equipment, have global warming potentials 1,000-10,000 times higher than carbon dioxide.
With Therma° installed, operators can more easily identify if they are spending too much energy over-chilling their products or if a punctured line needs maintenance.
Ultimately, Therma° empowers restaurant operators to understand their equipment better and prevent electricity waste and refrigerant leakage.
Test Therma° in your stores
An environmental impact assessment may seem counterintuitive: the restaurant industry can use sustainable practices and still be profitable.
Therma° worked with Impactable X, a leading third-party firm that quantifies social impact, to evaluate how much a restaurant location can reduce its carbon footprint by introducing temperature monitoring and alerts. Using Therma°, restaurant operators are alerted to temperature spikes in equipment and can proactively prevent food waste. In addition to the positive environmental impact, these reductions translate into monetary savings. Our report found:
- Therma° saves an average of 3,960 lbs of food per restaurant per year - or roughly 247 days of food for a family of 4.
- On average, Therma° prevents 1.07 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per restaurant year, taking 1.3 acres of US forest a year to sequester - and having the same environmental impact as consuming 120 gallons of gasoline.
- Per full-service restaurant, Therma° wireless sensors save operators $495 per month. For a 20-location restaurant group, this adds up to $118,800 saved.
- Per quick-service restaurant, Therma° wireless sensors save operators $228 per month. In a 9-location group, this is $24,624 saved.
With Therma° installed, operators can more easily identify whether they spend too much energy over-chilling their products. They also have better insight into mechanical issues, quickly recognizing necessary fixes, such as when a punctured line needs maintenance.
Ultimately, Therma° empowers restaurant operators to understand their equipment better, preventing electricity waste and refrigerant leakage.
For more information about purchasing Therma’s wireless temperature and humidity sensors, visit our product page, request a demo with a Therma° representative, or click below to buy sensors online.