Green/Sustainable Practices


Water Conservation


Food service establishments use a lot of water for
serving, cooking, cleaning, and especially dishwashing.
Reducing and managing water consumption is not only
a good "green” habit – it can also save money on utility
bills. According to the EPA, “industry estimates suggest
that implementing water-efficient practices in
commercial facilities can decrease operating costs by
approximately 11 percent."



A "To-Do List" for Using Less Water


  • Assess your water use to identify opportunities for savings and
  • Check regularly for leaks and, when found, repair them promptly.
  • Upgrade dishwashers, ice machines, and steam cookers to 
    ENERGY STAR®-qualified models.
  • Consider replacing equipment that discharges water
    continuously, such as food disposals and dipper wells, with more
    efficient models, or turn off when not in use.
  • Clean up with more water efficient spray valves.
  • Check automatic sensors on bathroom fixtures to ensure they 
    are operating properly and avoid unnecessary water use.




Waste Reduction & Recycling


Tips to Reduce Waste


  • Recycle everything possible – see "Recycling Tips" below.
  • Donate excess food to food banks or for use as animal feed.
  • Source locally grown food in season.
  • Prepare food to order whenever possible.
  • Store food to minimize waste:

        - Perishables should be stored in airtight containers or be wrapped tightly.

        - Keep perishables at front or top of refrigerator for easy access.

  • Whenever possible, purchase items with post-consumer recycled content and the least amount of packaging.




  • Connect with your local recyclers and find out what their requirements are:

        - Single-stream recycling: all recyclable materials go into one bin and are sorted later
at a recycling facility OR

        - Separated: recyclables must be grouped by type (plastics, glass, etc.)

  • Common recyclable materials include:

        - Paper products

        - Corrugated cardboard and cartons

        - Aluminum cans, foil, metal food containers

        - Glass containers

        - Plastics (#1-7 below)



 Identifying Plastics for Recycling



Plastic Type

Common Products



 Recycle #1

#1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)


- Beverage bottles

- Cleaning Containers

- Peanut butter, salad dressing, and other food containers


Clear, tough




#2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)


- Milk/water jugs

- Ice cream tubs

- Some plastic bags

Hard to semi-flexible, opaque, waxy surface



#3 – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

- Clear food packaging

- Bottles and other food containers


Unplasticized PVC – strong, tough, sometimes clear


Plasticized PVC – flexible, clear,



Recycle #4

#4 – Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

- Bread and grocery bags
- Plastic wrap

- Some bottles

Soft, flexible, waxy surface, translucent




#5 – Polypropylene (PP)

- Soup, yogurt, margarine containers

- Straws

Hard yet flexible, waxy surface, versatile




#6 – Polystyrene (PS)


- Disposable utensils

- Food containers

- Egg cartons


Glossy, rigid, semi-tough





#7 – Mixed (Other)



- Lids

- Metal food can liners

- Packaging


Includes resins, laminates, multi-material products; variety of properties

Check with your local recycler to find out which plastics they accept.


If you do not have access to single-stream recycling, develop an efficient and sanitary system to sort and store recyclables


Don’t Waste Your Used Cooking Oil!


Your waste cooking oil can be someone else’s biodiesel energy. A gallon of waste cooking oil has about 95% of the energy content of a gallon of gasoline.



  • Recycling cooking oil can put real money in your pocket: up to $1.00 per gallon or more. Visit Earth911’s cooking oil recycling locator to find local companies:
  • NEVER pour used cooking oil down the drain – it can clog your drain pipes, back up sewer lines, and  negatively impact water treatment plants.








Air Quality


  1. A quality HVAC system is a must. Only a trained professional can determine optimal airflow for your kitchen and dining areas. Another critical aspect is preventing hot air from the kitchen from leaking into dining areas. When that happens, you’ll be paying for valuable energy to cook, then paying for it again to cool.
  2. Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The chart below shows you how much air movement you need. For example, if a dining area seats 150 people, your HVAC system must move enough air to refill a 19’ x 20’ room every minute.




Occupancy (People/1000ft2)


Dining Room






Bar/cocktail lounge



Kitchen/cooking space



Other Tips to Maintain Indoor Air Quality


  1. Keep your dining area 100% smoke free.
  2. Use low-VOC (volatile organic compound) emission paints, and install environmentally friendly carpet and furniture that use lower levels of formaldehyde, glue, and VOCs.
  3. Do not allow vehicle idling at entrance or loading areas.



Pest Control


Tips for Less-Toxic Pest Control


  • Seal points of entry – fix screens, regularly look for holes/gaps in doors, windows, baseboards, etc.
  • Inspect incoming food and supplies for pantry moths, roaches, and other insects before storing.
  • Keep your facility clean and isolate garbage in an external sealed enclosure.
  • Find local exterminators that use environmentally friendly and/or more natural pest control products (such as cedar oil or boric acid).
  • Use chemical-free, ultraviolet, glue-based bug traps and humane, one-way traps for rodents.
  • Green Osage oranges placed in dark or damp places around the kitchen act as a cockroach repellant.
  • Ants that come in from outdoors can be killed with soapy water, which also erases ant trails. Indoor-nesting ants will require further treatment with boric acid. Mix 1 tsp. borax with 2 c. sugar water, dip tiny pieces of cotton ball in mixture and place near the ant problem. Ants will carry bait back to their nest and eradicate the colony.



Solar Power


Benefits of Solar Energy


  • Sunlight is free, and solar panels involve little to no operating costs.
  • Solar panels are long-lasting, and their value depreciates slowly.
  • It’s good PR – customers will be able to see the solar panels and know the business is environmentally responsible.


Identifying Whether Solar is the Right Choice


Because switching to solar energy involves a longer period to recoup the investment, it is important to consider these questions:

  • Are there state incentives available?
  • Does the proposed location get enough sunlight?
  • How much power will be needed to draw?


Solar Hot Water Heaters


If the initial investment in solar seems daunting, consider a solar hot water heater as a first step.  They use thermal collectors to heat water without needed the expensive technology to convert sunlight into electricity that solar panels require.








National Restaurant Association:


Food Service Technology Center:


Foodservice Warehouse:




PBS – “Smart Plastics Guide” (PDF link):