How leading QSRs are Promoting Sustainability in their Restaurants

Cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, C-stores, bakeries, and hotels all have one thing in common: food waste. More often than not, after we have a meal, we don’t necessarily think about where our scraps are going, let alone where the restaurant, bakery, or cafe’s excess inventory goes. Food waste is a large contributor to environmental harm, such as global warming. 

To be more specific, one third of all food produced in the world goes to waste, which is equivalent to 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains. Food waste is not solely a humanitarian issue but an environmental one too. When we waste food, we waste the energy, water, and resources that went into growing, harvesting, transporting, and packaging the goods. When those goods reach a landfill, they rot and emit harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. In the United States, the lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 32.6 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Needless to say, food waste is a big problem. 


In this blog post you will find small steps your business can make to become more environmentally friendly. Aside from ditching paper and implementing a suite of software products, such as Squadle, we broke down 3 ways you can make your restaurant more sustainable in a previous article. Starting below, we are going to discuss up-and-coming methods that are easy and simple to implement that can dramatically help your profits and the planet.

Start Small

Solving global warming is a collective problem that requires collective action. Think about the ways in which your business can work towards being eco-friendly. Outline your goals and break them down into what is achievable in the present and what requires more time and thought. By simply creating a roadmap to sustainability, you are contributing to the solution.

Sustainability at restaurant locations

Consider switching your napkins to a compostable one, printing menus on recycled paper, or offering a QR code for your paper menus. In the long run, consider researching more substantial investments such as energy efficient equipment or workflow automation. With the help of software, your business can cut out paper completely when it comes to checklists, shift management, and temperature logging. Industry leading software, such as Squadle, includes compliance checks for pre-shift checklists, food waste tracking, shift notes, and COVID-19 safety protocols, as well as customizable features for your business. Going paperless will decrease your business’s impact on forests, lower energy use and climate emissions, limit water, and overall produce less waste. 

Investing in digital food safety like Squadle’s products can save your business money. For example, wireless temperature sensors for food safety can detect temperature changes in your walk-in freezer, thus predicting a malfunction. This can save you from the losses tied to unscheduled downtime, like expired inventory and equipment replacement costs.  Even if your business has not met its sustainability goals– more importantly–you can set your staff up for success by reinforcing the ethos of sustainability. 

Mobile Apps that Reduce Food Waste at your Business 

Too Good To Go, Food For All and Your Local are mobile apps that are the new food waste solution. When your business collaborates with one of these organizations, you not only can reduce food waste but also create an additional avenue of cash flow. At times, it can be challenging to know how much food to prepare for customer demand on any given day. Apps like Too Good To Go allow food that would otherwise go in the trash to end up on people’s plates. Customers download the app, and at the end of the day, they can pick up a mystery bag of goodies for a fraction of the price, whether it be bagels, pizza, pastries, or full meals that would have gone to waste. Customers are loving the cheap food and surprise styled snacks and meals. 

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Too Good to Go showed great success in Europe and has recently been brought to NYC and plans to go nationwide. Over 250 well loved NYC cafes, bakeries, grocery stores, and food stores like Breads Bakery, Black Seed Bagels, Stumptown Coffee, and Tartinery have all partnered with Too Good To Go only within the first month of launching. In this same time frame, 15,000 customers have signed up for the app, proving that folks are actively making conscious decisions to help save their planet. 

Companies Going the Sustainable in the QSR Industry

Starbucks 

For many people, their morning starts with a cup of coffee, whether it’s brewed in their own home or picked up at their local Starbucks. Starbucks has made numerous efforts to be more environmentally friendly. From the beginning, they have been a leader in sourcing their coffee beans responsibly. Since then, they have worked on cup innovation to reduce its environmental impact by including post-consumer recycled fibers and creating recyclable lids and eliminating the use of plastic straws. They make it easy to be mindful by showcasing their $2 reusable cups at checkout that provide you a discount when you come back with a clean reusable cup. 

More recently, Starbucks collaborated with Ocean Conservatory to celebrate the return of reusable cups since the pandemic struck. For every customer who orders a beverage with a clean personal reusable cup, the Ocean Conservancy will donate $1. On top of that, Starbucks will contribute $1 million to increase customer habits with personal reusable cups. As drink cups are one of the most common plastics found on beaches, Starbucks’s seemingly simple efforts to keep the ocean clean makes the world of a difference. 

Starbucks continues to show that they care about the impact their business has on the environment. They will continue to test programs that ultimately help reduce single use cups as a part of their commitments to cut waste by 50% by 2030.

Burger King 

Burger King is taking action on the planet’s plastic crisis by trial running alternative materials in 51 locations, like Frypods made with renewable unbleached virgin paperboard, cutlery made with cPLA, a plant-based plastic, and napkins made with 100 percent recycled fiber. In addition, they implement paper and plant-based straws along with strawless lids. This has the power to eliminate up to 500 million single-use plastic straws annually from participating U.S. Burger King restaurants. Burger King is also looking into different materials to use for their Whopper sandwich, which could also lower the amount of paper waste across the U.S. Overall, approximately, 910 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year will be removed, which is the same as 196 vehicles driven per year. 

By piloting solutions to reduce single use plastics, Burger King is able to get direct feedback from customers on how the materials perform and what their preferences are. Partnerships with Coca-Cola Company and Kraft Heinz will allow Burger King to bring these innovative ideas to life and continue to be part of the leading change of sustainability in the food industry.

Choosing Sustainability

With a little time and effort, your business can work towards becoming more sustainable. Partnering with a food waste organization like Too Good To Go, making eco-friendly swaps for everyday items like napkins, utensils and menus, and going paperless with food safety softwares like Squadle’s products, your restaurant can not only help save the environment but also create additional cash flows. A growing number of people are becoming more conscious about how their decisions impact the environment. Therefore, a more sustainable restaurant will be appealing to a broader customer base; more and more consumers today will prioritize and support restaurants whose values align such as environment-friendly practices.