Sustainability initiatives can not only help restaurants save natural resources, but they can also help operators save money, a National Restaurant Association expert says.
Laura Abshire, NRA director of sustainability policy and government affairs, said the 2016 NRA Show saw a number of innovations aimed at making restaurants, especially in kitchen equipment, greener.
“Sustainability can be a great way to save costs in your restaurant,” Abshire said in an interview at the show in Chicago. “One of the things we are seeing a lot is the tracking of inventory — the food coming in and going out of your restaurant.”
Technologies to track food inventory can save operators “sometimes 2 to 6 percent on your food costs,” she said.
In the NRA’s 2016 survey of top table-service menu trends, environmental sustainability was No. 6 among operators’ trend rankings. “Locally sourced meats and seafood” was No. 1, and “locally grown produce” was No. 3 in the survey.
Technology is also helping restaurateurs get a handle on energy and water costs by using both more efficiently, she said.
“If you can get your energy bills down and your water bills down — there are a lot of technologies out there to help you do that — you can really save on your bottom line,” Abshire said.
Additionally, 2016 NRA Show vendors displayed a large number of products, especially service ware like cups and plates, made from recycled paper.
The NRA offers low-cost ideas for restaurants in sustainability through its ConServe program.