In this award-winning column, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies looks at best practices, case studies and more on how to take the best ideas in green building and operations and apply it to your foodservice operation.
Planning, developing and implementing composting programs continues to get easier for foodservice operators because more operators are electing to take these environmentally friendly steps. As role models for their peers, they help both commercial and noncommercial operators follow in that path.
Greenwashing, or exaggerating the environmentally friendly selling points of a product, happens in all avenues of foodservice, and is no longer the exclusive domain of organically produced or farm fresh ingredients.
Just five years ago the availability of sustainability and other cost calculators was scarce. These days, though, the scope of calculators has grown exponentially, ranging from calculators for specific equipment types to others designed to determine energy, water and total life cycle cost savings. They’ve also become more accurate.
When it comes to energy-efficient griddles, the energy-efficient part really varies by operation and need. "Griddles are heavily cost-driven and it's difficult to justify the strategies that make them more efficient," says David Zabrowski, director of engineering at the Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) in San Ramon, Calif.
When foodservice professionals discuss waste management, the conversation generally turns to composting, recycling, and donating excess food — anything that happens after the food has been wasted. But what about preventing the waste from occurring in the first place?
In the grand scheme of commercial kitchen energy use, convection ovens don't pose a huge drain on costs compared to refrigeration or even fryers. But that doesn't mean their impact on total kitchen energy use is negligible. In fact, the Food Service Technology Center is diligently working to revise standards for ovens, including rack, conveyor and combination units.
Going "green" is no easy task. But cultivating a "green" culture, meaning working to get an operation's entire staff, management team, vendors and associates in line with sustainability initiatives in order to create a more viable business over time — well, that's an even more challenging task.
Cooking with steam offers foodservice operators many benefits. For example, steam has six times the energy as boiling water and it transfers that energy instantaneously. And burning and scorching tends not to be an issue because steam never gets hot enough to caramelize the product. In addition, it is possible to cook multiple menu items in a steamer because steam does not transfer food flavors, it only enhances them.
Because they use water, gas and electricity, warewashers tend to be among the largest consumers of resources in any commercial kitchen. For foodservice operators wanting to get a better handle on their operating costs, specifying an energy-efficient warewasher is a good place to start.
When trying to create an environmentally friendly foodservice environment, most operators take the proper first step of specifying energy-efficient equipment. What often gets overlooked, though, is the fact maintaining an energy-efficient environment is much more of an ongoing process that requires proper cleaning and maintenance of equipment.