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Food Industry Serves Up Best Practices for Sustainability

sustainableproduceThe Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Restaurant Associates (RA), a New York City-based foodservice, restaurant and catering company, have released their free Green Dining Best Practices, packed with recommendations for environmentally friendly foodservice. Covering sustainable food purchasing and dining facility operation, early results at two test RA clients, Random House and Hearst Corporation, show these two sites will save more than $85,000 each year, cut 275 tons of carbon pollution and reduce landfill waste by 60 tons annually.

In a National Restaurant Association survey of trends for 2009, environmentally friendly equipment and sustainable practices topped chefs’ lists of hot trends and top cost-savers. In 2008, the No. 1 trend among chefs was local produce, according to the “What’s Hot” survey.

The best practices recommendations focus on areas of the foodservice and restaurant industry with the biggest environmental impacts, including food purchasing (addressing specific products like meat, produce and seafood), facility operation (improvements in the use of energy, waste, and water), packaging, transportation of food, and the use of toxic cleaning chemicals.

In addition, EDF launched an online resource in January that offers a free set of recommendations, case studies, publications and tools to help businesses identify and share ways to improve their environmental performance and reduce costs.

Restaurant Associates is committed to rolling out the green dining best practices in all 110 of their facilities nationwide, and is working with the Green Restaurant Association, which will audit and certify those efforts by 2011. The company also plans to increase the amount of sustainable seafood on its menus, offering clients “bottleless” water dispensers as an alternative to bottled water, reducing the carbon footprint of the meats and proteins they serve 20 percent by July 2010 and also reducing energy use in their facilities.

Green Restaurant Association also worked with PepsiCo Foodservice last year to help PepsiCo customers become more environmentally sustainable.

National restaurant chains also are making some sustainable choices at specific locations. Examples include Yum! Brands, parent of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Carl’s Jr.

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