The National Restaurant Association announced the release of its first-ever sustainability report, which looks at environmentally stable trends and initiatives within the restaurant industry, such as food waste reduction, composting, recycling, and cost-efficient energy solutions.
“Sustainability and waste reduction are increasingly important issues across the restaurant and foodservice industry,” says Scott DeFife, executive vice president, policy and government affairs, National Restaurant Association. “We have seen incorporation of eco-friendly business practices from large chains to independent operators, as well as manufacturers and other supply chain partners. The National Restaurant Association is working to ensure operators have access to the education, tools, and training needed to adopt successful and cost-effective sustainability best practices into their business models.”
“This is the first sustainability report the Association has ever produced,” says Clarice Turner, senior vice president of U.S. Business for Starbucks Coffee Co. and chair of the NRA’s sustainability and social responsibility committee. “It is a landmark document and we’re very proud of the work that went into it. It definitely outlines the Association’s sustainability goals nicely, and from a strategic standpoint, allows us to continue to tell this complex and important story. The report is a key piece of a comprehensive effort to demonstrate the ways in which NRA is being proactive and leading as a trade association on sustainability issues.”
As part of the restaurant industry’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the NRA is now offering its Conserve Sustainability Education Program  (CSEP) as a member benefit. The program – designed by the restaurant industry for the restaurant industry – provides online tools and resources to successfully implement environmental practices, as well as a roadmap to help navigate toward reducing carbon footprints.
“With the help and support of some key leaders in our industry, we’ve created the Conserve Sustainability Education Program, which emphasizes education and makes the business case for sustainability,” DeFife says. “Understanding what goes on in the back of the house – from the appliances you cook with to your energy and water use, packaging, management process, and even organics collection techniques – has a big potential positive impact on the average restaurant’s budget.”
CSEP includes industry-tried best practices, educational videos by industry experts, money-saving techniques, and a personalized action plan for operators.
The sustainability report comes on the heels of the NRA’s just-announced Conserve Sustainability Advisory Council, which brings together some of today’s top corporate sustainability leaders as part of the Conserve Initiative.
According to the NRA’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, consumers find sustainability efforts important when it comes to choosing a restaurant, adding the incentive to restaurateurs’ of increasing guest satisfaction and attracting sustainability-minded diners. In fact, nearly half of consumers say they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on its energy and water conservation practices.
NRA research also shows that the majority of restaurant operators already have plans to increase their efforts on energy and water conservation this year; more than six out of 10 plan to purchase energy-saving kitchen equipment and light fixtures in 2013, and half plan to invest in water-saving equipment and/or fixtures.