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Quick-service operators are continuing to explore methods by which they can make their restaurants more sustainable and eco-friendly, and a new organization is offering to help them do just that—and even pay them for it.
The Association for Restaurant Owners for a Sustainable Earth (AROSE) is a 2011-founded organization that specializes in eco-friendly recycling. Its primary service is collecting used cooking oil and grease trap waste from restaurants and turning it into 100 percent organic biofuel that can replace liquid fossil fuels.
But while many services already collect used oil from quick serves across the country, AROSE is different in that it pays client operators for their oil. Robert Hiller, director of marketing and strategic initiatives for AROSE, says the service offers between 60 cents and $1 per gallon.
This makes it a service that is good for both the restaurant’s bottom line and the company’s consciousness, he says.
“What we bring to the restaurateur, to the operator, is the self-satisfaction that they’re starting to do the right thing, they’re starting to operate in a green environment, in a sustainable atmosphere,” Hiller says. “A lot of folks talk green but don’t necessarily practice green.”
AROSE has more than 14,000 restaurant members and collects more than 40 million gallons of used cooking oil every year. Currently it is only available in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, California, and Washington, D.C.
Beyond its recycling services, AROSE also works with clients to better their overall business strategies and even offers window decals that mark a restaurant as a member, Hiller says.
Even though it will take a long time to get the whole industry on board with sustainable business practices, he says, AROSE’s services are an attempt to spread the word and educate people about how they can help not just the environment, but also their business.
“If I collected every single restaurant in the United States, all their used cooking oil, and processed it into bio fuel … it would still be a drop in the bucket compared to fossil fuels,” Hiller says. “But it’s a start in the right direction, and then you start getting folks involved in other greening initiatives.”
By Sam Oches