Industry News | September 14, 2011

Garden Fresh Biggest Green-Certified Restaurant Chain

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Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company to Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, announced its sustainability initiatives and Green Restaurant Association certification. Garden Fresh is the largest restaurant chain in the nation to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, an industry standard in restaurant sustainability.

Garden Fresh has been working toward certification for the past two years and has now completed the process. As part of the sustainability measures taken, Garden Fresh upgraded to high-efficiency spray valves, energy-efficient lighting, Green Seal-certified cleaning products, and recyclable glass, paper, aluminum, and cardboard packaging. Every year, Garden Fresh estimates, it will save 2.1 million pounds of waste paper, 7.5 million gallons of water, 4.4 million kilowatts of energy, and 3,194 cubic yards of landfill space because of these changes. The company is a Styrofoam-free restaurant chain and guests at Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes restaurants already use nondisposable dishes and cutlery, diverting waste from landfills and incinerators. As part of this certification, Garden Fresh will provide sustainability educational training to its employees annually.

“We have always sought innovative ways to be thoughtful about our impact on the environment. I believe that attitude is consistent with our product, the wishes of our guests and our brand,” says Michael Mack, CEO of Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. “The Green Restaurant Association provided us with a wonderful opportunity to further our efforts and we strongly value their hard work in transitioning the restaurant industry into a more environmentally responsible industry. Not only do we serve greens on our salad bars, but also all of our locations are now officially ‘green’ restaurants. We hope to set a standard among other national and large-chain restaurants to encourage them to follow suit.”

“We are pleased to see a restaurant chain of this volume be the pioneer in ‘green’ initiatives and set a standard in the restaurant industry,” says Jennifer Fleck, communications manager at the Green Restaurant Association. “The U.S. throws out 243 million tons of trash every year, 57 percent of which is buried in landfills. Garden Fresh is taking proactive steps to help reduce this number.”

The Green Restaurant Association, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote sustainability in the restaurant industry, certified Garden Fresh restaurants as a Two-Star Certified Green Restaurant. Under the certification process, Garden Fresh underwent environmental upgrades in all of its restaurants across the nation. The GRA reviewed the following categories to ensure sustainability requirements were met:

·         Energy

·         Sustainable Food

·         Water Efficiency

·         Waste Reduction & Recycling

·         Disposables

·         Chemicals & Pollution Reduction

·         Sustainable Furnishings & Building Materials

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