3 Ways Restaurants can Improve Sustainability with Therma°
Going green isn’t just for winning over customers. In fact, investing in sustainability will bring your business real benefits—especially when it comes to your bottom-line profits.
There is a strong correlation between sustainability performance and financial performance. Compared to non-eco-friendly competitors, eco-friendly restaurants have been shown to outperform them with an average profit margin of 11-14%.
Putting that into perspective, the average annual revenue of eco-friendly restaurants in the US is steadily growing—reaching an estimated $600 billion back in 2020.
So with that said, where should you start?
Reducing your restaurant's environmental impact
The food service industry has the potential to reduce its impact on the environment through waste reduction.
Some apparent changes have received much media attention, like dine-in restaurant businesses leaning towards reusable items—using 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.
Restaurants have made these changes, but the trouble is 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.
Fortunately, there are many much more cost-efficient alternatives to achieving sustainability.
Here are practices you should consider:
1. Focus on reducing food waste
Food waste will always be part of restaurant business operations. However, food waste is still a major financial loss and environmental hazard. According to research cited in Science magazine, pre-consumer levels of food waste account for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is that food waste can be minimized with the right actions.
Because you have to discard spoiled food, food spoilage is a significant problem in restaurants.
So how do you reduce food waste? First you need to figure out what causes the spoilage. According to the USDA, food that’s had prolonged exposure to the food safety danger zone—specifically the temperature range between 40°-140° F for two or more hours—is considered unfit for consumption
You can prevent this by assigning employees to conduct daily temperature checks using paper logs and traditional thermometers. However, human error and after-hour equipment breakdowns still occur and affect the integrity of the reports. Without accurate 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 I 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 food safety 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 the equipment as a whole. When one of the components becomes faulty, refrigerant leakage occurs and the chemicals are released. Especially when it comes to equipment nearing the end of its life—as 90% of refrigerant emissions occur at this point.
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.
What’s the next step for a profitable yet sustainable restaurant operation?
Without accurate temperature data, you may unknowingly over or under-cool your inventory. When refrigerators become unreliable or old, your natural reaction would be to turn down the 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.
You’ll need an Energy Monitoring System (EMS) installed. With it, you can more easily identify if your restaurant is spending too much energy over-chilling your products or if a punctured line needs maintenance.
So the next question is, where should you start looking for a reliable EMS?
Therma° can provide you with proactive solutions to sustainability
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°, you’ll be alerted to temperature spikes in equipment and, in turn, you 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.
Therma° focuses on its commitment to addressing inefficiencies in the cold chain. These are real solutions that you can implement into your restaurant sustainability practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and food waste—ultimately saving you money!
Unlock profitable sustainability now with Therma°—check out our remote temperature monitoring technology!