Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LRA Sponsors Conference Focused on Food, Packaging Waste

Consider how much packaging and food waste is generated each day in your restaurant? Between the prep waste, uneaten meals, glass bottles and used grease, a restaurant generates a huge amount of waste. And the kicker? We have to pay a hefty price to have it hauled off.

“It has always amazed me how costly the waste removal business is,” said Stan Harris, Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) president & CEO. “The restaurant pays to have their grease hauled off, which is then recycled into animal feed or converted to bio-diesel.”

In addition to those costs, Harris added that a restaurant also pays to have their bulk waste and recycled corrugated packaging disposed of or reprocessed. As a former restaurateur and consultant, he knows all to well that there are very few restaurants that effectively estimate the cost of total waste removal when they are constructing menus and the amount of waste created.

“We have to become more open to receiving product in reusable containers that can be sanitized,” Harris said. “We have to consider efficient methods for dealing with food waste and accept the fact that it might be time to consider upgrading existing lighting and air conditioning/heating systems to those that use less energy, require less maintenance and provide the same comfort levels at a lower cost.”

In an effort to address issues and opportunities that exist within the recycling realm for restaurants, tourism and hospitality industries, the LRA is sponsoring Global Green’s inaugural New Orleans Resource Recover conference March 2, 2012.
Chris Moyer, project manager for the National RestaurantAssociation (NRA) Conserve Sustainability Education Program will be a guest panelist. Prior to joining the NRA, Moyer had a 14-year career in the restaurant industry and developed an interest in sustainability while working as a manager for Outback Steakhouse.

 “During my days as a restaurant manager, I actively sought to reduce operating costs, increase kitchen efficiency and even borrowed sustainability practices from other industries,” said Moyer. “It all comes down to the bottom line. Green practices are good business practices.”

NRA Board Member and New Orleans restaurateur Dickie Brennan will also join the panel discussion. As a member of the NRA’s Sustainability Committee, Brennan sees this conference as an opportunity to have a broader discussion about these issues and work toward finding green solutions for Louisiana’s restaurant industry.

“The conference is a great platform for us to start working through the challenges that exist for restaurants who want to recycle and connect us with companies who are in the business of recycling,” Brennan said.

For more information about how you can incorporate green practices in your establishment, visit www.restaurant.org/conserve.

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