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3 Ways Restaurants Can Save the Environment and Save Money

Posted by on 4/1/2015

You’ve heard it before. Planet Earth has provided us with everything, everything, that we have ever needed, and it’s our duty as nature’s children to protect this beautiful home of ours.

Yet… for many restaurateurs, being a shepherd of the environment isn’t, well, lucrative enough. A recent study found that 80% of business-owners don’t recycle purely because they believe there’s no financial reason to do so. It’s sad but it’s true.

Listen. You and I both know that a restaurant can save money while still reusing, reducing, and recycling. Here are three examples of how.


Top Your Trashcan with a Magnetic Lid   

Reuse | Reduce | Recycle


Your servers would never intentionally let silverware get thrown away, right? Even if the server was, for example, in the weeds and they accidentally scraped a knife into the garbage, I’m sure they’d immediately reach their arm into the trash to retrieve your precious, costly knife. I have no doubt. Your servers are angels.

But what if they didn’t notice the knife fall in the first place? Now your silverware is headed to a landfill somewhere, never to be seen again. Not only does this contribute to our landfill problem, but you lose money every time a knife is thrown away. So I guess the question is: Why haven’t you gotten a silverware catcher yet?

One type of Silverware Catcher by San Jamar

There are several obvious pros to the silverware catcher. It streamlines your dish pit, it costs very little compared to the amount saved on tossed flatware, and it slows the expansion of our landfills. Online you can find models that fit both 44-gallon bins and 55-gallon bins. So I’ll ask it again: Why haven’t you gotten a silverware catcher yet?


Buy Less, Inventory More

Reuse | Reduce| Recycle


In a previous article, we detailed 6 reasons why restaurant-owners should tighten their inventory-keeping. Well here’s reason number 7. When you inventory, you help out our environment. According to a 2005 study, American restaurants produce 134,350,000 pounds of food waste every day — I don’t need to tell you that that number’s too high. Experts suggest two ways of reducing the amount of food sent to landfills, 1) compost it and 2) keep a smarter inventory. There are other resources online that discuss composting, so lets focus on inventorying.

The math is simple: when you use every ingredient that you buy, nothing goes into the trash and no money is wasted. Makes sense right? Here are a few tips to improve your inventorying:

  • Buy fewer ingredients, but buy them more regularly.
  • Tally up your inventory weekly.
  • Practice food cycling — older ingredients should always be used first.
  • Enter your data into inventorying software and adjust your buying patterns accordingly.
  • Don’t buy in bulk.
  • Enforce correct portioning.

    For more information on inventorying, this website gives a fairly succinct step-by-step guide on how to optimize your operation.



    Make Money off Used Tin Cans

    Reuse | Reduce |Recycle


    You should recycle almost all the non-food waste your restaurant generates. Cardboard boxes, non-glossy paper, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans should all go into a blue recycling bin.

    “But why waste my time?” your Business Sense speaks up. “Recycling may save the planet, but it does nothing to improve the standing of my wallet!”

    OK fine. But do you recycle tin?

    Almost all restaurant pantries have a wall of stacked tin cans filled with the kitchen’s supply of green beans, pineapples, tomato paste, and so on. The #10-size can that you use can be redeemed as scrap metal at your local recycling center for about 7¢ per can.

    “That’s all good and well,” your Business Sense replies, “but there’s not enough room to store all those empty cans. I have no other option but to throw them away with the trash.”

    Fair enough: tin cans in a restaurant are very large and they hog up a lot of space if you don’t own a can crusher. These simple machines reduce tin cans to a twentieth of their original size, making them easy to store in your big blue bin until you’re ready to cart them off to the recycling center.

    “Hurrumph. Yes, but seven cents per can is hardly worth my time!”

    Do you have a change jar at home? Saving empty tin cans is just like depositing the day’s coins into a jar instead of tossing them into the trash. Small bits of daily change start to add up. A 16 ft³ recycling bin holds 1803 crushed cans, which can net you around $125. That’s not a bad profit. Plus, you know… the environment.

    Those were three tips for restaurateurs looking to reduce their environmental impact, but the list goes on and on. If you have ideas of your own, mention them in the comments!


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