The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has issued its first sustainability report, which stresses restaurant initiatives in recycling, composting and food waste reduction, among other means.
“Sustainability and waste reduction are increasingly important issues across the restaurant and foodservice industry,” said Scott DeFife, executive vice president, policy and government affairs, for the Washington-based NRA, in a news release. The association “is working to ensure operators have access to the education, tools and training needed to adopt successful and cost-effective sustainability best practices into their business models.”
With food waste, the Washington-based NRA points out in its report that it has formed the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, along with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. The alliance focuses on reducing the amount of food waste going to landfills and increasing goods donated to food banks and other similar charities. It also pointed to composting, recycling used cooking oil into biodiesel and turning food waste into energy.
The report cited statistics that in 2010 the United States generated 60 million tons of food waste, with 40 million of that going to landfills.
“Our industries are committed to solving the problem of commercial food waste,” said Laura Abshire, director of sustainability and government affairs for the NRA.
The NRA also cited a study it commissioned done by Duke University, which reported that the biggest barriers restaurants in Durham, N.C., face in achieving zero waste is the lack of affordable composting and recycling programs. It recommended more public/private partnerships and encouraging a more proactive approach by business.