The world has lived through one of the most cataclysmic scenarios that we could have predicted. The 2020 COVID pandemic has taught us many valuable lessons that all of us in the commercial kitchen industry should instill in our operations. According to a 2018 report by researchers Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek, the global food system is responsible for approximately 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. While 26 may seem like a small number, we must keep in mind that the scale of these operations means that the consequences could be devastating.
What seems like a modern age problem actually has a far simpler and intuitive solution. Going sustainable can start from the simplest of operational changes and go all the way up.
All of which came to light during the pandemic, when businesses were suspending operations and there were fewer emissions. The result of this was a push for more sustainable operations in restaurants and commercial kitchens worldwide. A sustainable restaurant is now the key to a healthy future. Environmentally and fiscally. Here are some numbers across the commercial kitchen planning spectrum that shows us that sustainable restaurant businesses are the true way forward.
And the push for sustainability is certainly apparent on the consumer’s end as well. In an April 2020 study by McKinsey, nearly 57% of consumers chose to go the sustainable route and made subsequent changes to their lifestyle. The UK energy leader E.ON reports that a whopping 78% of small and medium dining enterprises have received demands for more sustainable produce and packaging.
So where do these sustainable changes happen in commercial kitchen design and planning?
Switching off, and switching to green:
A highly efficient method of going sustainable is making changes to the way your commercial kitchen consumes electricity. From simple changes like having timers on lights (or even switching them off manually after operations) to investing in energy-efficient resources like LED bulbs: Small but significant changes. An Energy Star report states that 80% of energy in a kitchen is actually wasted thanks to bad usage practices in the commercial kitchen. Be it switching on appliances permanently or using inefficient appliances. Something that hurts the Earth and also one’s accounts.
There is an appeal to using renewable energy-based sources as well for a commercial kitchen. Consumers in today’s times would always prefer dining at a restaurant that is low impact, and the investment in terms of both money and effort in implementing renewable sources makes huge gains in the end. Solar-powered restaurants are already becoming the new now. A major fast-food chain in America has pledged to convert its 75 restaurants into eco-friendly locations, outputting nearly 500 kilowatts of electricity each. So it would be prudent to consult with a commercial kitchen planner and see if you can harness the sun to prepare delicious food.
Dump the plastic, reuse everything:
Garbage management is an integral part of any business. More so a commercial kitchen. Moving away from single-use plastic alone makes a world of difference in dealing with garbage. It takes very little to make a switch to green packaging. Multiple pubs in India offered reusable growlers for buying beer during the pandemic and the practice continues to this day. We have already touched upon the famed pizza outlet in the Philippines that uses dried leaves to enable eco-friendly packaging.
Going local with the produce, going local with the people:
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of sustainability is the all-important one of having a local enterprise with local operations. Using inhouse grown produce saves you a huge financial and logistical burden while adding a vital element of sustainability to your commercial kitchen operation. The farm-to-fork concept has seen a surge in the past few years across the world. Agape, a sustainable restaurant in Australia is the country’s largest such operation that uses nearly entirely farm-grown produce. The Farm, another Australian venture, produces all of its food in-house with zero pesticides or chemicals and is 100% organic. Empowering local communities also makes a significant difference to your operations; an indigenous touch will always impact consumers more than outsourced management while giving locals a good opportunity to showcase their best.
The smaller things:
All said and done, it’s sometimes the smallest changes that make the biggest difference. Consumers have already been educated, now the onus is on the commercial kitchen industry to make a change. A simple switch like a set course menu or implementing smaller serving sizes during your meals ensures less wastage and a more holistic experience for diners. Switching to reusable containers adds less plastic to be managed. For all your consulting needs when making the switch to commercial, talk to the commercial kitchen planners at HPG, and find out how you can take the first step.