It seems that everyone needs to “go green” these days to stay in the good graces of their patrons, especially the younger customers. Millennials and Generation Z are two age groups that want the venues and brands they support to act with social and environmental consciousness.

With the potential for increased patronage, the restaurant and foodservice industries continue to increase their use of sustainable products to reflect a more eco-friendly image. However, going green can be confusing if you don’t have the proper direction. 

Occasionally, suppliers and distributors will exaggerate the environmental impacts of supposedly green products or services. Just because something is labeled as eco-friendly doesn’t mean that the product actually meets those standards or is the right solution for your business. 

As sustainable packaging and green cleaning products continue to gain popularity with many environmentally conscious patrons …

Restauranteurs should be mindful when seeking out greener products. Below we have listed a few tips to get you headed in the right direction.

Avoid Misleading Terminology

Certain words may sound eco-friendly, but that doesn’t mean that the products live up to the hype.

Take, for example, the term “biodegradable,” which appears in the descriptions for many supposedly green products. By what exactly does it mean? Many believe biodegradable products will break down when placed in the landfill, thus making the products environmentally friendly. 

That, however, is incorrect. While biodegradable products will decompose, the rate of decomposition may be extraordinarily slow (e.g., a few hundred years rather than 1,000 years), which does no good for the environment. 

The true standard for a green product that won’t spend the next 100 decades in a landfill is “compostable.” 

Compostable products and materials break down into soil and organic matter, allowing them to re-enter the environment, in a commercial compost setting. To earn the “compostable product” designation, companies must obtain a certification from entities like the Biodegradable Products Institute or ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials). These two certifications require rigorous vetting processes for a product to qualify as compostable. 

Staying Clean and Green

The foodservice industry literally can be messy at times. Venues can require multiple types of cleaners with a multitude of strengths and uses depending upon the types of surfaces and messes that need cleaning. When replacing traditional cleaning products with greener options, it can be challenging to know which ones to trust.

… Foodservice operators need to be diligent about finding the right mix of products to boost their eco-friendly image.

Fortunately, there is a certification that can help.

Green Seal is a non-profit, third party, environmental standard development organization that tests and certifies products, services, and venues (i.e., restaurants and hotels). Green Seal certification is based on a meticulous set of standards that measure against performance, health, and sustainability criteria. Green Seal-certified products have been the best-known alternatives to traditional chemical products since the certification came to fruition in 1989. 

For restrooms and handwashing stations, Green Seal-certified foam soaps require less water, providing both environmental and financial benefits. Meanwhile, there are many Green Seal-certified cleaners for tasks that involve glass, surface, and floor cleaning.

Most green cleaning systems include options for dilution control to help manage costs and lessen environmental impact. Manufacturers and distributors can ship the products in concentrated form in recyclable containers, which both reduces the carbon footprint associated with shipping and decreases the impact on the waste stream.

As sustainable packaging and green cleaning products continue to gain popularity with many environmentally conscious patrons, foodservice operators need to be diligent about finding the right mix of products to boost their eco-friendly image. It is essential to work with a supplier that will recommend the right mix of products that are both effective for your business and truly benefit our planet.

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