Home Publisher's Point of View NRA Sustainability Report Highlights Industry Progress, Remaining Challenges

NRA Sustainability Report Highlights Industry Progress, Remaining Challenges

Glenn Hasek

The National Restaurant Assn. (NRA) just released “The State of Restaurant Sustainability 2018 Edition.” Be sure to read the report. It is based on a survey of 500 restaurant owners and operators about their environmental efforts and sustainability opportunities and challenges within their operations. More than 1,000 consumers also were surveyed about the best methods for restaurants to promote sustainability practices to customers. Within the 26-page report there are many highlights. I will mention just a few of the most important findings here.

Energy-saving equipment and practices are common. About eight in 10 restaurant operators use energy-efficient lighting. Six in ten use programmable heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) thermostats. More than four in 10 use Energy Star-rated refrigerators, freezers and icemakers. Six in 10 restaurant kitchens use start-up/shut-down schedules to reduce the energy drain of kitchen equipment. Sixteen percent of restaurant operators take advantage of energy rebates from utility companies.

Interestingly, restaurants could be doing much more to save water. Low-flush toilets are in use in about half of restaurant operations (44 percent). Less than half of restaurants are using other low-cost innovations such as high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves (26 percent) and faucet aerators (27 percent).

A high percentage of restaurant operators report that they recycle. Nearly two-thirds currently recycle cardboard/paper (65 percent), or fats, oils and grease (64 percent). Table service-restaurant operators report somewhat higher rates of recycling than operators of limited-service restaurants, and independently owned restaurants report higher recycling rates than chain/franchisee-owned restaurants.

Most Buy Some Packaging with Recycled Content

Nearly three in four operators (72 percent) report that they buy at least some packaging and supplies that contain recycled materials. More than half (56 percent) say they buy at least some packaging and supplies that are certified as compostable.

Forty-seven percent of those participating in the survey said they track food waste. Independent restaurant operators are least likely to do it (32 percent). About three in four restaurant operators (74 percent) who track food waste do so daily. Most restaurant operators (57 percent) track food waste manually using pen and paper. Just 22 percent report that they donate leftover edible food that would otherwise be discarded. Half of restaurant operators (54 percent) cite liability or food-safety concerns as a reason for not donating leftover food. Three in ten restaurant operators (31 percent know about the federal Good Samaritan Act that relieves restaurants and other food donors of legal liability in cases of foodborne illness resulting from the consumption of donated food.

Fourteen percent of restaurant operators say they compost at least some food waste. Restaurant operators (39 percent) cite a lack of nearby composting facilities as their top reason for not composting food waste.

For information on consumer insights and food trends, access the report.

Virginia Green Travel Conference Set for March 1 to 2

I will be one of the keynote speakers at the 5th Annual Virginia Green Travel Conference & Travel Star Awards. The event will take place March 1 to 2 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center and is being put together by the Virginia Green Travel Alliance. The event will feature two days packed with keynote speaker presentations, educational sessions, Green Tourism Business Expo, Travel Star Awards and much more. My presentation is entitled, “Trends in Hotel Sustainability: The Convergence of Awareness, Inspiration & Innovation.” I hope to see you there.

Suppliers interested in exhibiting during the Green Tourism Business Expo should contact Tom Griffin, Executive Director of the Virginia Green Travel Alliance at (804) 986-9119, or by e-mail at tom@greenerresults.com. Hoteliers can register for the conference here. Be sure to mention the “20GreenLodging” code and gets 20 percent off of conference registration.

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Who is Your Sustainability Champion?

Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Looking for Guest Columnists

Every two weeks Green Lodging News posts a new guest column on its website. (Click here for examples.) The guest column also appears in the weekly e-newsletter. Green Lodging News is currently in need of industry experts to contribute occasional guest columns. Experts may include consultants, architects, designers, suppliers and those who own or operate green lodging establishments. Columns may be articles that take a stance on a particular subject or be strictly educational in nature. Columnists benefit by having their photo included along with a one paragraph description of their company. Interested in writing a column? Contact Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor, at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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