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Green initiatives gaining traction in restaurants

Green initiatives gaining traction in restaurants

Restaurateurs say an ethical obligation to go green, as well as a desire to reap the benefits of good public relations from eco-friendly moves, drive their decisions to embrace green strategies more so than expectations for solid returns on investment, according to a new study.

Conducted by Miami-based Retail Systems Research, in partnership with Nation’s Restaurant News, the green-focused survey on current and future initiatives found 66 percent of respondents said they believed going green would make their brands appear more attractive to consumers, while 63 percent indicated that they felt an ethical obligation to make their businesses more environmentally sound. Sixty-three percent of respondents also claimed going green would help them to be better viewed as industry leaders.

On the flip side, while 54 percent said that they hope to achieve a return on green investments within three years, 47 percent said they were unsure of when, or even if, they would see any ROI.

“There are three reasons for restaurants to enact environmentally sustainable practices: to save cost, reduce waste and build a greener brand,” said Steve Rowen, managing partner of RSR and co-author of the study. “In fact, the best performing restaurateurs believe green-minded consumers care enough about a brand’s environmental positioning to factor it in to ‘where to dine’ decisions. The hard part still is measuring ROI in terms of new revenue. The direct correlation is not clear, yet.”

The study, “The Better-Run Restaurant: Environmental Sustainability in Restaurant Retail 2010,” surveyed 124 respondents in late 2009, including operators from large and small chains as well as independent operations.

While the drivers behind going green may be split between good will and hard profit, the study found the majority of respondents said they have already incorporated green initiatives and technologies at their business or have budgeted for them in 2010.

These sustainable practices and the percentage of respondents taking them on this year, include:

  • Recycle raw materials (79%)
  • Regulate energy use in their stores or facilities (68%)
  • Promote eco-friendly items or ingredients in-store (67%)
  • Reduce take-out/send-home waste (65%)
  • Feature green processes such as ethically sourced products (64%)
  • Incorporate green construction practices into new facilities and stores (60%)

An in-depth look at this study will appear in the Feb. 22 issue of Nation’s Restaurant News. Subscribe here.

To obtain a copy of RSR’s full report, download it here.

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected].

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