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Restaurant Associates debuts green best practices program

NEW YORK Restaurant Associates, a contract foodservice and facilities management provider, unveiled its Green Dining Best Practices initiatives on Tuesday and said it plans to have the program in operation at all 110 of its accounts by 2011.

Ed Sirhal, president of New York-based Restaurant Associates, said the program will focus on lowering the company’s carbon footprint by reducing energy usage, decreasing the amount of meats and proteins served by 20 percent, increasing the amount of sustainable seafood on its menus, and offering bottleless water dispensers as an alternative to bottled water products.

“Clients are telling us that environmental issues are a priority,” he said. "In today’s economic environment it makes more sense to go green. Using more water, more energy just doesn’t make sense."

At two pilot clients in the program, Hearst Publications and Random House Books in New York, initial results indicate that Restaurant Associates will save more than $85,000 annually, cut 275 tons of carbon pollution and reduce landfill waste by 60 tons a year.

Restaurant Associates, a division of Charlotte, N.C.-based Compass Group North America, developed the program in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Green Restaurant Association, which will assist in the implementation of the initiative and also audit and certify the results.

"When we first started this project, we asked ourselves how we could effectively reduce our [carbon] footprint in a way that makes sense for our business." Sirhal said. "We realized we needed outside help with this endeavor and that’s when we formed our partnership with the EDF and GRA to help us navigate any thorny issues and tradeoffs [involved].”

Gwen Ruta, the EDF’s vice president of corporate partnerships, said the nonprofit group is very selective in the partnerships it chooses.

“Since we don’t accept any kind of payment [for our services], we only participate in projects we think have the potential to create widespread change and this is one of them,” she said. “We are pleased to be able to help offer best practices solutions, provide comprehensive, clear, concise advice for all of RA’s chefs and [foodservice] workers.”

Michael Oshman, executive director of the GRA, said his group would take a hands-on approach in working with landlords, vendors and waste haulers to ensure the best environmental solutions possible.

“I hear a lot on a daily basis about groundbreaking stuff in the green world,” he said. “Some of it is true and some isn’t. Personally and professionally, I really applaud RA. [for saying] they were jumping in with both feet and both hands.”


Gina Zimmer, RA’s vice president of marketing, said the new green initiative will not cost more to implement. “There’s no net cost; that’s our premise,” she said.

Sirhal added that the company would report its progress with the green program on an annual basis.

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected].

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