Going eco-friendly: The future of restaurants

More than a trend, sustainability is the way of the future for the hospitality and restaurant industry



Mar 16, 2022 - 4 min read

Going eco-friendly: The future of restaurants

Digital payments, menus on display screens, and automated order processes have transformed how a modern-day customer eats at a restaurant. One has to wonder, what’s the next big change? The answer lies in a phrase/two words–eco-friendly. 

With more consumers embracing sustainability in their daily lives and choosing establishments that offer eco-friendly brands, restaurants are shifting their operations in the quest to become a more sustainable businesses. More than that, it also shows that dining establishments are not limited to being profit-making enterprises and they’re conscious about society, the environment, and commitment to social causes.

What is an eco-friendly restaurant?

The term eco-friendly has a broad meaning and its application in different industries and sectors sets it apart. When it comes to restaurants in particular, there are many ways in which a dining establishment can become eco-friendly, right from the use of sustainable ingredients, and the way people dine in the restaurant to running operations in the kitchen.

Sustainable plates with a green plant and a house cut-out

Why run a sustainable restaurant?

It is often said that “when the why is clear, the how is easy.” So before any restaurant or café decides to become eco-friendly, the owners/managers should ask themselves ‘why’ they want to do so. Now, at first, becoming eco-friendly could seem like a waste of time, money, and effort; simply because it requires disruption of an existing system that works absolutely fine. 

However, on closer examination, becoming eco-friendly is actually the way of the future. In a conscious society, where the internet spreads information fast, a restaurant that adopts eco-friendly methods and runs a sustainable kitchen becomes more likable, not only in its immediate geographical vicinity but beyond it as well. The success of a restaurant is directly proportional to its popularity and going eco-friendly can do wonders for a business. 

Are you ready to become a sustainable restaurant business?

Each restaurant is different from the others and the ways to achieve a sustainable and eco-friendly system will vary accordingly. Fortunately, establishments of all sizes and types can find different ways to become eco-friendly, thereby contributing to the environment.

1. Use recycled materials

For a small establishment that serves a limited menu, the usage of utensils made from recycled materials can be a significant step towards an eco-friendly approach. Using paper products, right from straws to containers for takeaways, is highly cost-effective and environment-friendly for a restaurant.

Use sustainable packaging and recyclable materials
Use sustainable packaging and recyclable materials

2. Cook a seasonal menu

A recent trend adopted by many restaurants is the curation of a menu according to seasonal produce, be it vegetables, crops, or fruits. Many vegetables and fruits grow (organically) in a particular season and several cafes now have menus curated especially for them–marked as ‘seasonal.’ This is not only eco-friendly but it’s a proven fact that seasonal foods taste better than processed items, which have been stored and preserved with the use of chemicals.

La Madonna Bar and Restaurant Chefs Daniel Natoli and Adrian Li source local ingredients and use only the season's produce as part of their commitment to sustainable cooking.

READ MORE: How La Madonna became Melbourne's dining and drinking destination

3. Sustainable sourcing

While not all restaurants can go fully sustainable from the get-go, owners could start transitioning slowly to sourcing and purchasing their stock and supplies sustainably. If meat or seafood is one of the main courses on the menu, owners should consider sourcing from local fishermen and sustainable fisheries and farms and partnering with local producers. This helps empower the local community while also promoting sustainable practices in the restaurant business.

4. Composting

For large establishments, including Michelin-star restaurants or five-star hotels, there are several ways in which they can become eco-friendly. Using open kitchens that have a compost station can be one way in which waste can be put to good use while also making for innovation in the venue’s architecture.

5. Sustainable transportation

Many big restaurants have large pools of vehicles for delivery and pick-up of raw materials. Using hybrid vehicles for transport and delivery is a highly cost-effective method and it’s also a big step in making the restaurant eco-friendly. 

Social media is a massive tool for restaurants, cafes, and hotels to become popular among customers across the country. Joining organizations that promote eco-friendly practices and becoming vocal about it on social media can go a long way in helping the cause while making the restaurant extremely popular as well.

6. QR codes

A simple QR (Quick Response) code on the table allows customers to not only scan and access the menu, it also enables them to place the order without any hassles. Almost everyone visiting a restaurant owns a mobile phone and having a QR code on the table makes the experience smoother for them.

7. "Grow your own" or "Go Fresh"

Many restaurants have also started growing their own vegetables and produce in order to become eco-friendly. While growing and farming most vegetables is difficult, restaurant owners can grow herbs, sprouts, or edible plants that can be used in a variety of items.

Baan Tepa, a restaurant based in Thailand is known for its farm-to-table dining concept.

Pizza 4P's, one of the most popular Vietnam-based pizza restaurants, is also committed to a farm-to-table philosophy and sources its food from farmers in Da Lat.

The future is friendly, it’s ‘eco-friendly’

The world has seen a rapid transformation in the past decade, including and especially the years 2020 and 2021. Businesses, institutions, and individuals are trying to find new alternatives for means of production and consumption in order to strike a balance between personal profit and social good. 

Tip: If sustainability is part of your restaurant concept, include this in your overall marketing efforts. A good example would be to brand your booking forms and add a text or explanation about your commitment to sustainability. With the TableCheck platform, restaurants are able to control their brand and the messaging to their potential clients.

TableCheck all-in-one solution

Sustainability all the way

As far as restaurants are concerned, going eco-friendly is not only a game changer, it could well go on and define how the food industry functions in the years to come. Not many decades ago, the mere use of a mobile phone was a luxury for many people and the internet was an unknown entity. However, come 2022, things have fast-tracked to a person walking into a restaurant, scanning a code, ordering a latte from their mobile phone, paying for it, collecting it, and going back home without any hassles. 

Eco-friendly methods, which were once considered a part of corporate philanthropy, are going to become the bread and butter for establishments in the future. In some cases, the future is actually the present and the sooner restaurants catch up to this, the faster the world moves towards a better society.

Ordering on mobile

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