Going Green in a Commercial Kitchen

As Australians become more aware of their own effect on the environment, more and more are seeking to support businesses that make an effort when it comes to their sustainability. Commercial kitchens and restaurants (no matter what size) use a significant amount of resources to get food on the table for large numbers of people.

Of course, you may have already started a BYO cup discount for coffee or stopped giving out plastic straws. Perhaps you’ve invested in biodegradable cutlery and napkins, but what else can you look at to make your kitchen truly ‘green’? There are many ways to minimise your environmental impact, save energy and water and still deliver delicious food. But you probably don’t want to invest in a full scale kitchen renovation so here is the low down on improving your operations without disrupting normal operations.

Water:

The most obvious place to start is by saving water resources, this can also be one of the easiest to implement.

  • Don’t leave taps running when cooking and preparing food. Train kitchen staff to turn them off when not in use or install sensors so they don’t have to use their hands.
  • Make sure you always run dishwashers and glass washers on a full load (and while we’re at it, make sure it recycles water and if you’re buying a new one get the most efficient model you can).
  • Install flow restrictors (these are cheap and easy to install yourself) to kitchen and bathroom taps.

Electricity:

Next step: power! Commercial kitchens are obviously pretty energy intensive but there are some small things you can do that make a big impact:

  • Turn off all appliances when not in use. If there is no good reason to leave it on, don’t.
  • Service your cold rooms regularly and make sure the door seals properly when closed. Also make sure you’re not over or under cooling and wasting energy.
  • When you close, turn everything off (except the cool rooms obviously)!

Ordering:

The next thing to consider is where you get your food from, and if there are any efficiencies lost there.

  • Always aim to get local, fresh and organic produce where you can.
  • Let your distributor know the efforts you’re making to reduce your environmental impact – ask if there is any way to reduce shipments to once a week (to cut down on fuel emissions).
  • Look for supplies that come in recyclable or biodegradable containers with minimal plastic. 

Food Waste:

Perhaps the most important step for foodservice businesses in becoming environmentally friendly is reducing food waste. There are a few things you can do here. Reduce waste by:

  • Buying frozen foods (obviously bread is a good one) that you only thaw when you need.
  • Buying versatile foods that can be used across a number of dishes
  • Highlight expiration dates and train chefs to use up the foods closest to expiring first.

Obviously, there will be some waste, but consider how you deal with it instead of throwing it in landfill:

  • Separate waste into organic waste, co-mingled recycling and general landfill bins.
  • The organic waste can be used in local gardens or you can create your own composting system.
  • Donate surplus food to charities that feed those in need.

Other waste:

Food waste isn’t the only waste that gets generated in a commercial kitchen, so you need to consider what you’re doing with the rest.

  • Ensure you are getting your cooking oil collected and recycled.
  • Swap your regular toilet paper with recycled paper
  • Recycle cardboard, glass and alumminium

There is no need to shut down your kitchen completely and overhaul entire processes to reduce your environmental impact. Start with the above easy steps and aim to grow over time. Not only will it reduce your utility bills, but your customers will appreciate the effort (and so will the earth!).

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