4 ways to boost sustainability in back-to-school season

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Stocking up on pencils, notebooks and other school supplies is an end-of-summer tradition for a lot of consumers. And nowadays, with more students being concerned about the environment, refillable water bottles might be on their shopping lists, too. Foodservice operators need to think about what they’re doing to meet sustainability goals, too—with more consumers being interested in eco-friendly products and practices, foodservice operators are wise to incorporate greener and more sustainable practices into their facilities to ensure diners stay interested.

What’s better, those practices are easier to implement than operators might think. Here’s a few things to consider doing this back-to-school season.

Offer more plant-based options

According to a May 2019 report from Technomic, Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility, 73% of operators say they expect sustainability and social responsibility will take on a greater role in the next two years. One easy way to incorporate sustainable practices is to add more plant-based meals and sides onto the everyday menu.

While a majority of diners are not strictly vegetarian or vegan, Technomic’s 2019 College & University Consumer Trend Report notes that 25% of college students follow some type of specialized diet, ranging from only eating certain types of meat to being completely vegan. Additionally, 24% of sophomores or higher classman say they are eating more vegetarian or vegan foods on campus now compared to one year ago. For those diners, plant-based options can be a big draw—and at the same time, are better for the environment.

Encourage use of recyclable or non-single-use utensils and containers

Reducing the amount of waste in foodservice facilities is a good initiative to implement, too. Setting up stations where students and other diners can refill their reusable water bottles can help reduce the amount of plastic water bottles that get thrown away, and encouraging diners to bring their own reusable containers if they’re taking food to-go can help cut down on the number of Styrofoam containers being used. Additionally, using recyclable containers or ones made from recycled materials can help reduce the strain on the environment.

Work on reducing food waste and water use

According to Technomic’s 2019 College & University Consumer Trend Report, 79% of operators currently offer programs to help reduce food waste, while 21% say they have plans to add them in the future. Reducing food waste can be as simple as stopping offering trays in cafeterias. By eliminating the use of trays, diners are encouraged to take only what they plan on eating, rather than loading up the full tray and throwing away a portion of everything. Additionally, eliminating trays also helps with water use, as they won’t need to be washed, either. By simply offering plates instead of trays, foodservice facilities can reduce food waste and water use in one fell swoop.

Implement oil management

Technomic’s College & University report finds that 62% of operators currently have eco-friendly or sustainable initiatives in place, and 26% plan to add some in the future. For those who don’t already do so, oil management is an important thing to consider. With traditional oil systems, containers and jugs of oil take up a lot of space and contribute to quite a bit of waste—not to mention the resources needed for replacing the oil are time-consuming and unsustainable. With oil management systems from Restaurant Technologies, however, oil is recycled only when it needs to be—never too early, which can be wasteful—and because less packaging is used, facilities save money and produce less garbage.

To learn more about sustainability and how oil management from Restaurant Technologies makes foodservice operations more eco-friendly, visit

This post is sponsored by Restaurant Technologies