The National Restaurant Association has released its report on the State of Restaurant Sustainability for 2018, aimed at highlighting sustainability efforts by restaurant operators nationwide.
The report provides the latest trends in environmental practices in the restaurant industry, along with consumer insights. It aims to help restaurant operations of all types and sizes understand what other restaurateurs are doing to increase sustainability.
The association surveyed more than 500 restaurant owners and operators about their sustainability efforts and challenges. More than 1,000 consumers also were surveyed about the best ways restaurants can communicate their sustainability initiatives to their guests.
The report shows that the use of energy-saving equipment and energy-saving practices are common. About eight in 10 restaurant operators use energy-efficient lighting, while six in 10 use programmable heating, ventilation and air conditioning thermostats. About four in 10 use Energy Star-rated refrigerators, freezers and ice makers.
The report also shows that a growing number of restaurants are concerned about waste. Nearly half of all restaurant operators surveyed are tracking the amount of food waste their restaurant generates and about one in five donate edible leftovers to charities.
One local restaurant dedicated to donating leftovers is the Donut Inn. Owners Allen Renquist and Matt Anlyan donated more than 24,000 baked goods to local charitable organizations, including the Good Shepherd Center, last year. Their goal for this year is 30,000.
Another local effort aimed to cut down on restaurant waste, as well as keep beaches and oceans clean, is the Ocean Friendly Establishments project organized by the Plastic Ocean Project Inc., Surfrider Cape Fear Chapter and Wrightsville Beach Keep It Clean. The initiative asks local food establishments to curb the use of single-use plastics, such as straws, and recognizes them for their efforts. More than 40 local establishments, including Spoonfed Kitchen & Bake Shop at 1930 Eastwood Road in Lumina Commons, are now recognized as Ocean Friendly, and offer disposable plastic straws only upon request.
Additionally, the report found that water-saving innovations are gaining ground. Low-flush toilets are in use in about half of restaurant operations and more than one in four restaurants are using other innovations such as high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves and faucet aerators.
Customers can encourage local restaurant sustainability by requesting that their favorite establishments increase their efforts to implement energy saving practices and cut down on waste via composting, recycling and reducing single use plastics and other non-biodegradable materials.
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Correction: This version corrects the number of leftover baked goods donated by Donut Inn to charitable organizations.