Restaurants and Sustainability: How to Nurture Strategic Success?

Published on:
April 2, 2024
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These days, sustainability is being recognized as an important factor in many facets of life, particularly in retail establishments such as restaurants. The farm-to-table trend might have taken off, but buying local produce is only one part of a comprehensive strategy for restaurants to be environmentally responsible.

A study in conjunction with Sustainable Restaurant Association found over 84% of consumers cited sustainability and ethics as a determining factor in where they chose to dine.

Restaurants have a responsibility to their customers and the community to prioritize sustainability and environmental protection because of the diverse range of individuals who frequent the food and beverage business.

Restaurants should seek out methods to improve their sustainability while still giving consumers a good time to lessen their impact on the environment. Restaurants can play their part to improve sustainability and make the world a better place by adopting some of the many leading practices when it comes to restaurants and sustainability. 

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Understanding the Importance of Restaurants and Sustainability

Sustainability in the restaurant and food service industry is all about eliminating waste, saving electricity and water, and sourcing and storage of products sustainably. 

It's about restaurateurs making an effort to lessen their environmental effect. We are getting closer to a balance between economic prosperity, social well-being, and environmental conservation when restaurants adopt sustainability. 

In actuality, this can involve making use of composted kitchen leftovers or fruits and vegetables grown nearby. It could also involve utilizing eco-friendly items for decoration or customer service or changing to lightbulbs that use less energy. 

More and more eateries are joining the sustainability movement, which is helping to build a better, more sustainable future for everyone.

Making a restaurant that is better for the environment, the economy, and future generations is the goal of this sustainable restaurant movement.

Consider the restaurants' perspective and ask yourself what they stand to gain. Sustainable practices in the restaurant industry are about more than simply helping the planet.

In addition to bringing a little glimmer to the economy, it will also improve the restaurant's reputation and bring in eco-conscious diners. 

Environmental Impact of the Hospitality Sector

Not surprisingly, both the media and customers are focusing on restaurants and sustainability. The moment has come to deal with the obvious climatic outcomes.

In both the short and long term, our food system is wreaking havoc on the planet's ecosystems.

Businesses like restaurants use a lot of power, plastic, food, and a lot of other things, which all affect the environment.

The restaurant industry is under increasing pressure, and the reasons for this are as follows.

1. Food Waste

One of the most wasteful sectors in the world is the hospitality sector, and it's a major concern.

While the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. That’s estimated to be 30-40 percent of the entire US food supply,4 and equates to 219 pounds of waste per person.

Transportation of huge amounts of unused food, mostly by diesel cars that generate a lot of carbon dioxide, is a major contributor to this problem, which hurts the environment.

Did you think food waste could be recycled?

When it comes to the food industry, 40% of all trash that ends up in the dump is food scraps. The environmental effect of these landfills is very alarming, what with all the dangerous gasses they release and the land they destroy. The impact of food waste is certainly not something to chuckle about.

2. Food Production

Although various individuals may associate different ideas with "food sustainability," the term really encompasses a lot more than just the food industry.

Consideration of the effects on agriculture, the environment, and society from sectors like food production and distribution is essential in the hospitality business.

As a result of the massive quantities of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere by agricultural machinery and manufacturing facilities, the production process is often responsible for significant environmental harm.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers degrades soil quality over time and damages the land in the process of facilitating crop growth.

On top of that, more CO₂ is released during delivery, thus the dinner you just served has already caused environmental damage.

Damage to the land can reduce soil fertility, making it difficult for crops to flourish, which is particularly problematic in developing nations. Hence, without assistance, some groups find it difficult to subsist only on land.

3. Plastics

The level of plastic pollution is so high that even the food we consume and the water we drink contain microplastics. A large portion of the world's plastic trash comes from restaurants because of the quantity of plastics they use.

The majority of the plastics used in the hospitality industry are of the single-use kind; that is, people throw away these frequently used things like straws, bags, bottles, and silverware after just one usage. Making the switch to reusable utensils, cups, straws, jars, etc. is a simple thing your business can do to help.

Nevertheless, you should exercise caution if you switch to eco-friendlier silverware; for example, new studies have shown that bamboo items could contain a dangerous adhesive; hence, you should constantly check the label.

If you own a restaurant, you can help reduce your impact on the environment by switching to these three eco-friendly items instead of plastic straws.

4. Water

Water is a scarce and precious resource; considering that humans can only drink 1% of the world's total water supply—99% of which is not freshwater—the subject of wastewater is often neglected.

Just like any other kind of trash, water eventually has to be handled; this has environmental implications. Water is used for a variety of purposes in restaurants, including cleaning equipment and serving guests.

Wasted water has a domino effect on the natural world. Huge facilities are required to treat wastewater, and each year they release hundreds of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, amplifying the problem of climate change.

5. Energy

Compared to commercial buildings, commercial kitchens use ten times as much energy, indicating that the hospitality business is a major user of this resource.

Constantly used equipment, such gas stoves and electric air conditioners, contribute to this mountain of energy use, which has environmental costs.

More gas consumption means more harmful pollutants, which means greater global warming. Drilling additional holes into the ground to discover new reserves is a direct result of the increased demand for natural resources like gas, which damages both land and the seafloor. 

Eventually, these resources will become extinct.

Key Components of a Sustainable Restaurant

Sustainability in the restaurant and foodservice industry: what makes a restaurant sustainable? Let's break it down. All of these things are important for a restaurant's sustainability plan since they help lower the restaurant's carbon footprint and make it more eco-friendly.

Being a part of the current sustainability trends in restaurants is not the only reason these components are important.

The plans center on building a sustainable eatery that is mindful of its influence on global warming has a deep appreciation for the earth's natural resources, and strives for ever-better sustainability measures.

Food Sourcing

Sourcing food isn't just about getting your hands on the freshest produce; local, seasonal, and environmentally friendly foods should be given priority.

By taking this route, we can support local farmers, reduce our carbon footprint, and enjoy some very unique culinary experiences.

Sustainable food sourcing might not seem like a priority for restaurants. Look, I'll tell you. Improving food-sourcing practices can

  • Take a restaurant's menu to the next level by adding variety, quality, and sophistication
  • Incorporate a touch of the countryside into your meal

Save as much food as possible from going to waste. Surely everyone would want that now?

Waste Management

Next up in our list is waste management, which is an important part of any restaurant's sustainability efforts.

Food waste reduction and recycling are the main focuses of this component. The goal is to reduce food waste and demonstrate that we are good stewards of resources.

Some of you may be asking what steps restaurants can take to become more environmentally conscious.

Making ensuring all recyclables are properly sorted into containers for metal, glass, plastic, and cardboard is the most important part. Concerning the benefits, what are they?

Well, they get to maximize efficiency, reduce energy use, and save money.

Energy Efficiency

Reducing energy usage is the primary objective of Energy Efficiency, the third aspect of our quartet.

Businesses can benefit the environment and save money on power costs by switching to energy-efficient equipment and lights. This will also reduce the restaurant's carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

By monitoring and optimizing energy usage, smart thermostats and management systems help lessen energy use and save resources.

Eco-Friendly Practices

Finally, Eco-Friendly Practices involve:

  • Incorporating sustainable materials into operations
  • Implementing environmentally-conscious methods
  • Utilizing eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Employing furniture crafted from recycled materials with environmental considerations
  • Advocating for water conservation efforts

Using packaging that is biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable is a great way for restaurants to make an impression.

Incentives like discounts for customers who bring their own containers and instructions on how to properly dispose of packaging are great ways to get people involved.

One guaranteed approach to get clients on board is to promote their efforts via various venues, including social media.

Implementing Sustainable Menu Options

Thinking about sustainable menu alternatives is a great first step toward a more sustainable food system.

You can accommodate different diets and lessen your influence on the environment by serving plant-based meals and concentrating on sustainable seafood.

You might be wondering why it's important for restaurants to include vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

Engaging Staff and Customers in Sustainability Efforts

Engaging employees and consumers is just as important as implementing sustainable practices when it comes to developing a successful sustainability plan.

The long-term viability of a restaurant is, after all, everyone's job.

To broaden their staff's understanding of sustainable practices, restaurants might encourage them to participate in sustainability-related training programs, seminars, or conferences.

The goal is to include all employees in the process of establishing a sustainable culture inside the restaurant.

Collaborating with Local Partners

Collaboration with local partners is essential for sustainability, and it doesn't stop at the restaurant.

To help sustainable restaurants achieve their sustainability objectives and support the local community, they may team up with local farmers, suppliers, and waste management organizations.

They can take their dedication to sustainable practices to the next level by becoming members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Working with local suppliers offers a delightful feast of benefits:

  • High-quality, locally-sourced ingredients
  • Sustainable practices and initiatives
  • Fresh and nutritious produce
  • Contribution to the local economy
  • Encouragement of innovation and personalized offerings

Measuring and Monitoring Sustainability Progress

To be sustainable is to engage in an ongoing process of improvement, not a destination in search of perfection.

Furthermore, tracking and assessing sustainability progress is essential to guarantee ongoing development. Key performance metrics that restaurants should monitor include:

  • Utilization of water
  • Consumption of energy
  • Management of food waste
  • Disposal of non-food waste
  • Calculation of carbon footprint per meal served
  • Establishing a system to monitor and regularly evaluate data related to sustainability objectives is crucial.

This is where restaurant inventory management software like Xenia, kitchen display screens, and point-of-sale systems that face the customers come in handy.

It seems to reason that what is quantifiable will also be improved.

Promoting Your Sustainable Restaurant

Promoting your eco-friendly restaurant is also an important part of sustainability, which goes beyond just implementing sustainable measures.

Reaching out to consumers that care about the environment and sharing your sustainability activities on social media can help you establish a loyal client base.

In the restaurant industry, restaurants can also:

  • Organize events
  • Collaborate with community organizations
  • Collect feedback
  • Display applicable certifications

This has the potential to bring in new consumers and foster loyalty among existing ones.


Minimizing food waste and lowering energy use are only two aspects of restaurants and sustainability.

It's an all-encompassing strategy that includes everything from promoting eco-friendly practices to utilizing energy-efficient appliances, sourcing local and sustainable ingredients, engaging staff and customers, measuring progress, collaborating with local partners, and implementing sustainable menu options.

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