A sustainable mission: Reducing oil waste

deep fryers
Photograph: Shutterstock

From Restaurant Technologies.

Today’s modern consumer, when dining out, is not just looking for great tasting food. A growing number of diners are also looking for restaurants that employ environmentally friendly practices. In fact, 57% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase food and beverages if they are sustainable, according to Technomic’s recent Healthy Eating report, while data from Restaurant Technologies finds that 78% of restaurant patrons say they would be likely to choose one restaurant over another if they knew its menu and operations were sustainable.

But beyond local sourcing and sustainable ingredients, what can operators do? The recent push to reduce or eliminate plastic straw usage has been in the news lately, but that’s not the only sustainable initiative operators can undertake. Here’s a look at how operators can incorporate sustainability in their operations via proper oil management and waste reduction.

Waste reduction with proper oil management

Many kitchens use oil that comes as a jug in a box (JIB), which can translate to a lot of waste because of how often operators turn over oil. And, too often, operators could be doing more to care for the oil that they use, which would lengthen its lifespan and in turn create less waste. Using less oil—replacing it less often, thanks to better cleaning processes—means fewer jugs and boxes in the garbage.

One JIB is constructed of nearly a pound of cardboard and about 10 ounces of plastic, so with some adjustments to oil management, operators can not only cut their oil costs, but also reduce their waste (and in turn their trash costs) as well. In fact, in 2017, Restaurant Technologies’ oil management systems helped eliminate more than 12 million JIBs, avoiding the disposal of a whopping 9,877 tons of trash.

How to manage oil to reduce waste

There are a few ways to reduce waste through proper oil management. First, operators should use a closed-loop automated oil management system, which can help resolve issues of sustainability. For instance, it provides a proper disposal method rather than pouring old oil down drains. By installing a system with two tanks—one for fresh cooking oil and one for waste oil—employees can use controls on the inside of the fryers to easily add, filter and dispose of oil as needed at the push of a button.

Second, proper oil management systems can include methods for recycling oil, which reduces the amount of oil that’s simply discarded after use. By turning used cooking oil into biodiesel—a fuel that not only repurposes the oil but is also more sustainable than fossil fuels—operators can feel good that even their used cooking oil is being put to good use.

Implementing closed-loop oil management systems in kitchens can not only help the environment, but it can also ensure safer oil procedures in-house, which can reduce injuries and risk for staff.

With all these benefits, it’s no surprise operators are choosing to make the change.

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