Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Restaurant Associates (RA) have unveiled their Green Dining Best Practices, a comprehensive set of science-based recommendations for environmentally friendly foodservice. The practices have been tested by two RA clients: Random House and Hearst Corporation. Early results of the tests show that the two sites will potentially save over $85,000 each year, cut 275 tons of carbon pollution, and reduce landfill waste by 60 tons annually, among other environmental benefits.

In a National Restaurant Association survey of trends for 2009, environmentally friendly equipment and sustainable practices topped chefs’ lists of hot trends and top cost-savers. The Green Dining Best Practices, available free of charge at www.edf.org/greendining, focus on aspects of the foodservice and restaurant industry with the biggest environmental impacts, including food purchasing (addressing specific products like meat, produce and seafood), facility operation (improvements in the use of energy, waste, and water), packaging, transportation of food, and the use of toxic cleaning chemicals. The best practices provide clear, objective, science-based advice for dining managers and chefs to make smart choices in their kitchens to improve environmental performance across the board.

“Consumers today know what they want: delicious food at affordable prices that’s good for them and for the planet. This is a tall order, but it’s one we can meet,” says Ed Sirhal, president of Restaurant Associates. “Using these best practices as a guide, we unearthed opportunities for cost and environmental savings that were right there for the taking. We encourage companies throughout the foodservice industry to do the same.”

Restaurant Associates has committed to rolling out the green dining best practices in all 110 of their facilities nationwide, and has engaged the Green Restaurant Association to audit and certify those efforts by 2011. The company has also committed to increasing the amount of sustainable seafood on its menus, offering clients “bottleless” water dispensers as an alternative to bottled water, reducing by 20 percent the carbon footprint of the meats and proteins they serve by July 2010, and also reducing energy use in their facilities.

“Dining out—whether it’s a workday lunch or a Saturday night out—has become an American institution. Chefs and food service managers have so many opportunities to help their clients stay healthy and lighten their load on the planet,” says Gwen Ruta, vice president of Corporate Partnerships at EDF. “As foodservice companies recognize how easily they can cut costs and environmental impacts, we expect these best practices to spread throughout the industry.”

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