One thing is certain: a BeaverTails pastry is gone in seconds. We’re thrilled that our customers rarely let any of that indulgent goodness go to waste! But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to commit to sustainability across our chain to prevent waste from ending up in the landfill.
After our customers have licked that last bit of chocolate hazelnut from their lips, what happens to that red wax paper wrap? What about that handful of napkins they grabbed or that box that held one of our delicious poutines? What happens to those after every squeaky cheese curd disappears?
Those napkins, for instance, are 100% compostable and that means they will biodegrade instead of filling up the landfill. This is important to note as the whole restaurant industry works to reduce its carbon footprint. Think of plastic straws: those single-use items which customers use for a matter of minutes go on polluting our earth for generations. Some experts have estimated that the United States goes through 500 million straws per day, a staggering amount of waste that needn’t be thrown out. In 2018 we witnessed several brands pledge to ditch plastic straws altogether.
Such commitments not only help the planet; they also help connect with consumers who are demanding companies commit to sustainability. Consumers, especially millennial consumers, are willing to spend more on a product that comes from a sustainable brand. Surveys have revealed that 73% of millennials prefer to give their money to a company committed to sustainability. Brands can harness these commitments to reach consumers and garner media exposure. In the case of plastic straws, the #stopsucking campaign was a great example of brands declaring their corporate social responsibility.
Companies and brands can also provide innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Take the NextGen Cup Challenge – frustrated with the lack of truly green, functional, and cost-effective options for cold and hot beverages, a few brands (including Starbucks and McDonalds) joined together to open-source a new product. They should be announcing their selected ideas to move forward with next month and all of us restaurant chains will be watching closely.
What can individual restaurant owner/operators do? One simple start is to conduct a waste audit in your restaurant to better understand what is ending up in the garbage. Note what single-use items are being thrown out and try to adjust your use accordingly, e.g. if you see that your customers are grabbing large handfuls of napkins, try using napkin dispensers with an accompanying sign encouraging customers to take only what they need. You’ll see this help your bottom line as well as the environment.
Here at BeaverTails, we are doing our part to keep those single-use items out of the landfill. In addition to compostable napkins, we also use compostable cardboard boxes for our poutines and those wax paper wraps will soon be compostable, too. We also provide recyclable drink cups and recyclable carry-out trays. Finding such replacements is not always easy. The costs for green options are often higher and may require different recycling facilities. As we all work together to commit to sustainability, we will continue to find innovative solutions.
Our next priority at BeaverTails: replacing plastic straws! Stay tuned.