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What’s Involved in a Zero Waste Restaurant?

We recently read somewhere Zero is the new green. What does that mean? The trendy talk is confusing but there is a buzz and you could be taking advantage of it. We’ve looked into what having a zero waste restaurant involves. Could you? Would you?

A zero waste restaurant runs a closed loop operation. It means that if 80% or more of all your waste produced is recycled, you’re doing well. 90% is the common target and some achieve 95%. Here are things to consider if you’re setting up a “Zero” establishment:

1. Composting Facilities:
Most restaurant waste is food waste. There isn’t always the extra space to setup composting facilities but if you do, you can potentially reduce your waste by up to 80% already. There are various composting systems and wormeries that can deal with cooked food onsite. Contact us to put you in touch with the right people to help you.
If you don’t have the space, there are compost collection services available. Have a look at our composting page which includes info on composting services providers.

2. Packaging
The next big source of waste is packaging. You can use GreenHome’s biodegradable and compostable food packaging to serve your food in but what about sourcing ingredients in a way that removes excess packaging from the process? Try and source your ingredients locally and direct from the producer if possible. This way you can negotiate the packaging to be something reusable or returnable.

3. Menu Planning
Have you considered how long menus with lists of options creates room for more waste? How about reducing your menu down to back-to-basics eating. Think seasonal, local and sustainable. This way you can take advantage of what’s fresh and available here and now. Your menu will always be new and interesting.

4. Sourcing Ingredients
If you are offering fresh and seasonal menu items, you have the opportunity to source your ingredients from local producers instead of supermarkets and wholesalers. Look for Sassi green light fish only, free range, grass fed, wild and organic meats and set yourself the challenge to use the whole animal from nose to tail instead of just the popular cuts of meat.

5. Daily sustainability
The basics of sustainable living apply too. Switch to alternative energy. Save money and avoid tricky power cuts by getting some solar panels or wind turbines. Use LED and energy saving lights. Look into grey water recycling systems. Reuse what you can. Decorate using recycled, re-purposed and socially responsible items. Use living plants for table decorations. The list can go on – what great ideas have we missed?

Here is a handy food waste pyramid to look at and see where you can explore opportunities to divert food waste from landfill.

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