Sustainability in the Foodservice Industry
The problem of environmental degradation is a reality in every society. Many people and countries have been on the frontline to identify various strategies that can protect the natural environment from destruction (Johnston, Fanzo, & Cogill, 2014). Within the past two centuries, mankind has engaged in inappropriate economic practices and land use activities. These malpractices explain why the future of the global community should be taken seriously than ever before. Different sectors and industries have a role to play in an attempt to address the problem of climate change. Sustainability focuses on the best initiatives and practices that can be undertaken to meet the needs of every future generation (Chou, Horng, Liu, Huang, & Chung, 2016). This discussion outlines some of the best practices that can promote sustainability in the foodservice industry.
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Foodservice Industry: Sustainability in Different Areas
The food service industry has become a major player in the global economy. This industry is characterized by “numerous companies, businesses, and restaurants that prepare and market meals prepared outside the family setting” (Johnston et al., 2014, p. 421). The industry has continued to attract many players from different sectors. The industry is also associated with a wide range of processes, products, and customer delivery initiatives (Chou et al., 2016). These practices and processes contribute a lot to the problem of environmental degradation. To transform the situation, it has been necessary for different stakeholders in the industry to embrace several sustainability practices.
Different stakeholders in the foodservice industry should be on the frontline to embrace sustainable purchasing processes. The first approach that has been embraced by different consumers is buying products locally. It is agreeable that the industry has numerous restaurants and cafes in every part of the world. These firms are usually forced to acquire raw materials from different locations (Johnston et al., 2014). Such processes have been associated with complex logistical and supply chain processes. That being the case, customers and companies can be encouraged to buy local. This approach will make it easier for the companies to minimize their ecological footprints, streamline their supply chain operations, and conserve the natural environment.
Local food sources will deliver quality materials that have been produced in the surrounding region. This approach will support the welfare of the community, minimize ecological impact, and promote the idea of sustainability (Johnston et al., 2014). The customers can be involved to present new concepts that can be used to improve the production process.
The players in this industry can go further to come up with environmentally friendly products. Such food materials are usually delivered using sustainable processes. The products should be delivered to the customers using recyclable packaging materials (Ross, Pandey, & Ross, 2015). The products should also be processed using sustainable methods to deal with the current problem of environmental degradation. When raw materials are purchased locally, the major expenses and impacts on the natural environment will be addressed significantly.
Some companies such as McDonald’s have been on the frontline to transform their corporate images. The firms embrace the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in an attempt to safeguard the natural environment. This is a clear indication that more companies in the foodservice industry have been embracing various strategies to promote the idea of waste control. The first strategy used by firms in different countries is that of recycling (Chou et al., 2016). This practice is necessary because it encourages companies and customers to recycle different materials. For example, the containers and packing materials used to deliver food materials in the industry can promote the idea of sustainability (Ross et al., 2015). This practice will make it easier for more stakeholders in the industry to use recyclable materials.
Composting is another practice that has the potential to deal with pollution. The industry has been observed to contribute the largest percentage of solid wastes. Such wastes include packaging materials, leftovers, and containers (Ju & Chang, 2016). Composting can, therefore, be used by these companies and their consumers to deal with this environmental problem. Composting can be used to produce organic manure that can be used for agricultural practices. It would be appropriate for different companies in this industry to embrace these practices to deal with the current problems affecting the global community.
Wastewater should be recycled and reused. This strategy will minimize the impacts of different water harvesting processes. The recycled water is usually clean and can be discharged into different rivers. The strategy has been embraced by different firms in the industry such as Starbucks Corporation and the Coca Cola Company. Repurposed food materials can be reused if they have not been eaten by the targeted customers (Chou et al., 2016). However, issues such as safety and handling should be taken seriously to meet the needs of the customers.
The other strategy that can support the idea of sustainability is that of energy conservation. The industry consumes a lot of energy. It is agreeable that the rate of energy consumption is directly proportional to production. The main strategies used to produce energy can have significant impacts on the natural environment. This happens to be the case because the major sources of energy are unsustainable and nonrenewable. Restaurants, cafés, and foodservice chains have the potential to become sustainable by using energy in an effective manner (Chou et al., 2016). The first approach towards realizing this goal is through the use of renewable sources of power or energy. For example, most of the companies can embrace the use of wind, water, and solar energy. These renewable sources of energy are usually sustainable and do not negative impacts on the environment.
Energy can be used efficiently by acquiring the most appropriate equipment. For instance, the companies can ensure “their facilities have energy-saving bulbs” (Chou et al., 2016, p. 11). The equipment used to cook different food materials should also be efficient in terms of energy consumption. By so doing, it will be easier for these companies to use energy effectively. The employees can also be encouraged “to switch off lights that are not in use” (Johnston et al., 2014, p. 422). Washing machines, ovens, and dishwashers can be fully loaded to minimize energy use. Idle time should also be reduced to achieve positive results. Equipment and dishwashers should be washed regularly. These measures have the potential to reduce energy use in the foodservice industry. The major firms in the industry can design sustainable buildings to promote the concept of energy conservation (Ross et al., 2015).
Motion sensors can also be used appropriately and in sustainability. This approach will ensure energy is used efficiently. Switching on motion sensors whenever necessary is a useful strategy that can result in energy conservation (Johnston et al., 2014). Studies can also be done to come up with new practices that can result in energy conservation in the foodservice industry.
The major companies in the foodservice industry should go a step further to conserve and use water efficiently. Restaurants and fast food companies should repair leaks immediately to ensure water is not wasted. The workers and customers in the industry should be guided and trained to conserve water (Chou et al., 2016). This practice will make it easier for companies to address the issue of climate change.
Ju and Chang (2016) believe strongly that thawing can be used to promote a firm’s sustainability agenda. Food should be thawed in coolers “instead of running it under warm or hot water” (Ju & Chang, 2016, p. 112). The employees can be encouraged to load dishes appropriately. This strategy will ensure the companies conserve water and eventually reduce their ecological footprints. Water should be kept at the right temperatures to minimize evaporation. The important issue to acknowledge is that water is a precious natural resource that should be used efficiently. These measures will ensure every company in the industry conserves water and eventually become sustainable.
The food service industry is currently impacting the nature of environmental integrity. Sustainability is therefore a powerful concept that can be used to ensure scarce resources are used efficiently. The companies in this industry should conserve water, repair leaking pipes, use energy efficiently, embrace the idea of recycling, and dispose of waste materials proficiently (Johnston et al., 2014). When these measures are taken seriously, more resources will be used sustainably to support the needs of every future generation.
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