Sustainability has become a top priority for the restaurant industry. But what can restaurant operators do to improve their sustainability status? This blog looks at three ways Checkit’s intelligent operations platform drives up sustainability in restaurants.Let’s start by looking at what’s driving the sustainability agenda across the restaurant industry.
The COP26 summit in Glasgow underlined the role of every business in helping to slow down climate change. The restaurant sector is no exception. According to one group of researchers, the food industry overall is responsible for over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. There is increasing pressure from policy-makers for restaurants to take clear steps towards sustainability – and prove they are doing so – with legally binding targets being put in place. Reporting mechanisms are also being introduced to compel companies to publish details of their environmental impact.
Sustainability in restaurants is also increasingly important to consumers. According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the number of consumers concerned about the environment has risen from 47% before the pandemic to 65% after the first series of lockdowns. This is one of a number of surveys suggesting the public are more concerned about the environment than before the pandemic, with the use of reusable bags and cups rising steeply.
The imperative to improve sustainability in restaurants is vital from a number of angles.
Better performance depends on close attention to the way restaurant operations run on a day-to-day basis. The answers lie in the detail. But that detail is often lost in what we describe as dark operations – where the daily activity of frontline teams is hidden from managers by outdated reporting mechanisms.
But how does that work exactly? Let’s look at three ways Checkit is driving up sustainability in restaurants.
Reducing food waste is a big step to greater sustainability in restaurants
A recent study on sustainability in restaurants found that between 4% and 10% of food purchased by restaurants never gets to customers, while 30-40% of the food served to customers never gets consumed. That carries a huge cost to the planet in terms of energy used in the production of wasted food. There is also a financial cost. According to the USDA, the restaurant industry loses $162 billion annually as a result of wasted food.
And consumers are becoming more aware of food waste too. A study by Unilever showed that 72% of diners in the US care about how restaurants handle food waste, and 47% are willing to spend more at restaurants with an active food recovery programme.
Reasons for this waste include overproduction, lack of awareness, unsuccessful employee training, improper food storage and lack of access to composting facilities.
Checkit empowers restaurants to reduce food waste. IoT sensors provide 24/7 monitoring of fridges and freezers to reduce the risk of food being exposed to unsafe temperatures and subsequently thrown away.
One large catering organisation prevented £20,000 of food waste when the Checkit platform detected that a freezer door had been left open.
Supporting a culture of sustainability in restaurants
Experts agree that establishing a culture of sustainability across the workforce is pivotal in achieving better performance metrics.
Checkit’s digital assistants prompt, guide and capture best practice to keep sustainability and efficiency embedded in the day-to-day activity of frontline and kitchen staff.
The digital assistant, delivered as a mobile app or handheld device, can be configured with customisable processes and industry standards. It reminds staff when essential checks or actions are due, guides them on what to do and captures the detail, location and time of what’s been done to create a digital audit trail.
Equipping teams with this technology enables restaurants to eradicate complicated spreadsheets and paper checklists, which are vulnerable to loss and falsification. They also do little to help frontline workers understand and enact best practice, which is problematic in an industry with high staff turnover. These are the outdated methods that give rise to dark operations.
The other advantage is that granular data feeds back to restaurant managers via a remote dashboard. This allows managers to constantly assess performance against sustainability targets without having to travel between sites, thus avoiding all the carbon emissions associated with that. Areas of weakness can be addressed immediately and managers can roll out improved processes to all staff in minutes rather than weeks.
Saving energy by harnessing intelligent operations
Hospitality venues from restaurants to pubs consume significant amounts of energy across heating and hot water, catering, lighting and air conditioning. According to the Institute of Hospitality, heating and hot water alone account for around 60% of energy used in a hotel.
The sustainable food organisation Zero Foodprint (ZFP) found that, on average, 8kg of carbon dioxide is emitted for every meal prepared in restaurants, 70% of which is in the production of ingredients.
Making sense of energy usage across the restaurant is absolutely vital for those looking to improve sustainability. But data often comes from differing sources, making it difficult to establish a single source of truth. Only with consistent data can restaurant operators assess and address the biggest areas of energy consumption.
Checkit’s intelligent operations platform is geared towards giving buildings a voice. IoT sensors combine with analytics to uncover new opportunities to save energy.
In restaurants, for example, fridges and freezers can become inefficient over time. Trending data from sensors enables this to be identified early and dealt with to prevent energy waste. The system also helps coordinate engineering resources more efficiently with predictive maintenance.
The rise of smart building technology enables this and other real-time building data, such as occupancy information, to be captured and connected in a single platform. Opportunities to make savings are brought to light and can be enacted very quickly through automation, procedural adjustment and improved management of infrastructure and equipment.