Launching a sustainable menu for your restaurant can seem like a minefield. There’s food waste and food provenance to think about, all mixed up with simple cost concerns – after all, whatever you do has to make sense economically for your business.
Recently Proper Oils attended an event run by Plate2Planet, where this topic was being discussed. Plate2Planet is an organisation aimed at serving up sustainability in foodservice. It brings together food outlets to help drive progress in sustainability together.
Here’s what we learned:
Inspire your staff to follow your lead
It’s no good the boss wanting environment-friendly business practices – to make it happen, your staff needs to be engaged in the mission too. But having a higher purpose for your staff makes them feel more engaged and inspired. Wendy Duncan from Unilever suggests making one member of staff the champion for your more sustainable menu.
Serve less meat
It’s a good idea to serve smaller portions of meat and instead make vegetables the star of the show. The meat can act like the side dish while sitting on the plate.
Choose high-welfare meat where possible
If you’re serving meat, make it sustainable by choosing your cuts of meat from animals raised to high welfare standards.
Change your menu one dish at a time
You don’t have to make the changes all at once – instead look at one dish and consider what you can do to make it more sustainable. Make sure first that the dish is balanced nutritionally, then review the ingredients to check you are obtaining the best available. For example, are the ingredients seasonal or local? Could you consider animal welfare in this dish? Small changes make all the difference.
Work out where your food waste goes
A third of food produced for human consumption in the world is thrown away – that’s around 1.3 billion tonnes or more than £10,000 per outlet per year, according to WRAP, an organisation that works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency.
You can work out where the majority of your food waste occurs by having different food waste bins in your kitchen – one for food preparation waste and one for waste scraped from customer plates. When you see where the majority of your waste is coming from, you can take steps to reduce this.
Manage your energy use
Consider whether you reduce the energy used to produce your dishes. This could mean choosing seasonal ingredients that can be sourced within the UK, rather than ingredients that must be sourced from abroad and will carry air miles. Switching your lights to LEDs will help.
Showcase your changes to the customer
When you’ve made the changes to your menu, let your customers know. Include it on your menu and make sure your waiting staff can talk about it knowledgeably. Customers will be interested to know that you’re working more sustainably – and it will help you sell your dishes.
Send surplus food to charity
Ordered too many of an ingredient by mistake? Rather than chucking out perfectly edible food, try redistributing your surplus stock that is still fresh, in date and good to eat to FareShare.
This charity works to redistribute surplus food from the food industry to UK charities and community groups to help fight hunger.
For example, they take food that has been incorrectly packaged, with short dates, seasonal stock, lines no longer being retailed, quality rejections or damaged stock.
9. Make sure your waste cooking oil is being collected responsibly
Finally, make sure that your waste cooking oil is being collected by a licensed used cooking oil collector – like Proper Oils – which ensures it’s recycled into biodiesel. You’ll also need a working grease trap in place. As well as helping to reduce greenhouse gases, you’ll be protecting your drains and local sewer systems from fatbergs.
No used cooking oil in the London Mayor’s Draft Environment Strategy
Why Proper Oils pays its staff the London Living Wage
5 ways a grease trap can help your food business
Customer case study: red 5-star Pennyhill Park Hotel