Did you know that 25-40% of the food produced in the U.S. is never consumed? When you add utilities and disposal into the mix, there’s lots of room for waste in QSRs. But, big brands are taking steps to combat this waste.

As Earth Day quickly approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on your restaurants and the environment. Are they part of this eco-friendly trend? Or are they producing more than their fair share of waste?

Running environmentally-friendly restaurants doesn’t have to mean solar panels and composting. Instead, there are many little things you can do to show that your restaurants are committed to the environment. Here are five simple ways to go green in your business.

Green building standards

Yum! Brands recently made a push to build more (LEED)-certified buildings, embracing the widely-used environmental rating system as part of its membership in the Green Building Council. To date, the company has built more than 30 LEED-certified buildings. If you’re planning to build a new location, then building it to LEED standards would be a smart move. Even if you’re just making a small repair or remodel to one of your existing locations, why not find ways to make the process greener? This might include using low-volatile organic compound (VOC) materials or increasing the grade of insulation you use.

LED lighting

Wendy’s made a commitment to the environment by participating in the Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge. One change they made since joining this program is installing LED lighting inside and outside of their newly remodeled stores. Using LED lighting, motion sensors, and low-flow plumbing are easy ways for any QSR to protect the environment.

Recycling programs

Most QSRs recycle cardboard, plastic, and glass, but brands like Chipotle take this a step further. When they replace industrial kitchen equipment, instead of hauling it off to a landfill, they donate it to an organization in need. QSR operators can follow their example and keep bulky appliances out of landfills.

Donating food to shelters

While it’s difficult to accomplish with perishable foods like meat and dairy, donating unused, unexpired food to those in need is a simple and powerful way to help the community and reuse food, rather than let it go to waste. Panera Bread Co. and their Day-End Dough-Nation program is one of the best-known examples of this. In sticking to their mantra of only serving freshly baked bread, Panera gives all the pastries and bread they would normally throw away to qualifying, tax-exempt rescue missions, food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens, meal delivery programs, senior centers, nursing homes, schools, or churches.

Appeal to vegetarians

Meat-based meals tend to produce a larger amount of waste and can put a strain on the Earth. As a result, Taco Bell rolled out a more vegetarian-friendly menu. By replacing meat with beans, cheese, and other vegetarian products, they’re able to reduce meat consumption. At your QSR, is it possible to add more vegetarian or vegan menu items? Doing so could have a positive impact on the environment and your sales.


Going green doesn’t have to mean losing greenbacks

There’s a tendency to think that the more sustainably you run your business, the more expensive it will be. But, the opposite can hold true. Going green is a good way to save money and improve your brand’s image.

If you learn to adapt your business along with government green initiatives and related legislation, you’ll not only save waste from landfills and conserve energy, but you may gain a new following of eco-friendly customers.

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