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Sysco Instilling ‘Green’ Culture

sysco-truck2At a new 353,000 square-foot, $35 million regional distribution center in Longview, Texas, foodservice distribution giant Sysco is cementing the ideas of energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact.

Many environmental efficiencies were built into the location, but there is always room for improvement, Brett Lindig, president of Sysco of East Texas, told the Longview News Journal. “There was a lot built into our design here but we still find cracks around doors or leaks in refrigeration lines,” Lindig said in the article.

As another method to save energy, Sysco uses on-board tracking devices in its trucks to ensure efficient operation, Lindig said. The system monitors idling time, among other issues. If a truck is seen to be idling too long and wasting fuel, the driver receives corrective training.

This particular Sysco location has as many as 60 delivery routes operating over hundreds of miles a day. In North America, Sysco has nearly 170 locations, with a total of $37.5 billion in annual sales.

To improve efficiency of inbound shipping, Sysco in 2007 initiated its Transportation Management System, according to the company’s 2008 corporate social responsibility report.

Sysco is not the only example of environmental stewardship in the foodservice industry.

A new energy tool kit promises to help restaurant owners cut energy use by up to 10 percent. Kilojolts Consulting Group has released its Restaurant Manager’s Energy Tool Kit that addresses inefficient restaurant operations. The “energy manager in a box” toolkit includes everything an operator needs to implement, promote, and measure an energy waste reduction program.

Cooking, HVAC, refrigeration, and lighting comprise more than 80 percent of a restaurant’s energy budget, according to the Lexington, Mass.-based company. The tool kit addresses this waste through education, re-training, and positive reinforcement and is one of a series of “See the Light” energy waste reduction programs developed by the energy management consulting firm.

Operators can measure the success of their energy waste reduction program by using the tool kit’s proprietary benchmarking software tool to capture current energy usage and track energy use reductions.

Restaurants, including fast-food operations, are already increasing their sustainability efforts as they discover that a majority of customers choose a restaurant based on their commitment to the environment.

The National Restaurant Association is also seeing the light when it comes to environmental sustainability. The 2009 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, May 16-19, in Chicago, has added several sessions that show restaurant operators how they can reduce their environmental footprint while improving their bottom line.

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