If you’ve been thinking about bringing a new ethos of sustainability into your business, the beginning of a new year provides a useful impetus to get started — especially if your organisation will be affected by the impending EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

Here are our suggestions for achievable New Year’s resolutions that your business can work towards in 2023 and beyond. Pick one, two or all six, and reap the benefits of running a sustainable, more efficient operation.

1. Build a dream team

Putting specific people in charge of your sustainability goals sends a clear message about your commitment to sustainability, and keeps everyone across your organisation accountable for making real change. If you don’t have the budget to hire a dedicated sustainability manager, appoint a ‘green team’ from existing staff to keep you on track. This can include people from all levels of your business, not just upper management; front line staff often have smart, informed ideas on how to make the best use of resources.

2. Minimise waste

Your kitchen waste is one area worth a renewed focus. Food waste is an enormous contributor to the climate crisis, and one where the hospitality industry makes a significant impact — 26% of an estimated 931 million tonnes of wasted food per year. Start by measuring your waste; food businesses are often shocked by how much they’re actually wasting, incurring unnecessary costs while also having a negative effect on the environment. Once you know where your food waste is at its worst, find creative ways to prevent, reduce and repurpose.

3. Cut your water use

Many of us don’t consider the water footprint of our meals, but food production relies heavily on water availability. An estimated 70% of all extracted freshwater is used for agriculture alone, while a further 20% goes to the production and processing industries. With the effects of climate change ever more evident, water scarcity is quickly becoming a more pressing concern — meaning that smart, prudent use is more important than ever.

With the combined requirements of equipment operation, food prep, cleaning and hand hygiene, a restaurant’s most significant use of water is in the kitchen. Audit your water use with the goal of implementing water-efficient ways of working in your kitchen; you’ll reap the additional benefits of reduced energy use and operating costs.

4. Check your packaging

Why not take this opportunity to address the amount of plastic packaging your business is using? Foodservice businesses have the potential to make a significant impact when it comes to plastic waste, and it’s well worth examining where your business could do better. Even small changes make a difference and can be easier to maintain in the long run. Here are some to consider:

  • Encourage customers to bring their own cups when ordering take-away teas and coffees.
  • Implement a policy where single-use plastic items, such as straws, are only given to customers when they request them. 
  • Ditch the plastic cutlery and packaging for your takeaway dishes. Why not offer a small discount to customers who return their old containers to the delivery courier on their next order, or drop them off at your restaurant next time they collect food? As a bonus, this also encourages loyalty.

5. Rethink your menu

This year, you might commit to redesigning your menu with sustainability in mind. Research shows that consumers want to make environmentally-friendly choices, but often lack the information needed to do so — leaving the onus on industry to guide them in the right direction. Whether it’s introducing a nose-to-tail ethos in your kitchen, tracking your carbon footprint per dish or simply including more plant-based options or locally-sourced ingredients, there are plenty of steps you can take to make your menu more climate-friendly.

In 2020, the World Resources Institute released their ‘Playbook For Guiding Diners Towards Plant-Rich Foods’. This report emphasised that one of the most important ways to lessen the environmental impact of food production is to reduce demand for meat and encourage a shift to ‘plant-rich’ diets comprised largely of vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds, with small amounts of meat, eggs, dairy and fish.

The Playbook suggests 57 ‘behaviour change interventions’, designed to nudge foodservice customers toward more plant-rich options. The most effective of these are summarised here.

6. Examine your supply chain

Supply chains are a critical component of any sustainability strategy, as scope 3 (or indirect) emissions represent a significant chunk of industry’s overall carbon footprint. Within the hospitality and food sector (HaFS) in particular, the importance of this area cannot be overstated; WRAP estimates that scope 3 can account for up to 90% of the emissions of a typical food business.

This year, make a commitment to examine your supply chain across every type of order you make, including non-perishables and non-food items from delph to takeaway containers, even cleaning supplies. Consider the distance your orders are travelling, as well as the sustainability efforts of your supplier companies themselves. It may well be possible to source similar products closer to home, or provided by companies who care as much about the environment as you do.

If there are significant emissions in your supply chain, this will eventually put your business at risk. Doing this hard work now will pay off later, as more stringent climate legislation comes into force.

Let Foodprint do the hard work for you.

At Nutritics, we know how busy the food industry can be; that’s why we’ve created a fully automated system that does the time-consuming work for you. Foodprint automatically calculates the carbon footprint of your food supply chain to manage your purchasing and scope 3 non financial reporting requirements. 

As you enter recipes into Nutritics, your Foodprint score is updated, taking into account the environmental impact specific to each ingredient. Changes made to foods, recipes and suppliers are updated in real-time, allowing you to tweak your dishes to reduce their impact on the environment. This can also be communicated effectively to customers, giving them the power to make informed, climate-friendly decisions.

Learn more about how Foodprint can help your food business. Get in touch today and make carbon tracking a piece of cake!

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our 10 ways to make your restaurant more sustainable.