!We want: Less food waste, local products and sustainable energy – that’s what we want!
Uuuuff a shopping tour with the girls is exciting and exhausting at the same time. I am hungry now; I need to recharge my batteries. I suggest going to a restaurant to have a nice dinner in order to end this shopping day. Luckily the girls agree and we choose a restaurant close to the city centre, just across the street where we are now.
The restaurant is super busy but the waiter manages to get us a table for three people. We sit down and check the menu, or shall I say read the menu book? The plastic menu book contains 7 pages full of different starters, main courses and desserts. I will never find something on the huge list of possibilities! There is seafood, vegetarian dishes and several different courses with meat. It seems that this establishment has everything all around the year thanks to globalization. Anyway, we are hungry and do not think about transport costs neither about the local market and its products. We order starters and the main course and of course a tasty bottle of red wine. Why not a wine from South Africa?
Before the dishes are served I need to go to the washroom. On my way I pass the kitchen and I am able to peep into it. Wow, hectic! Machines are running, steam is coming out, chefs are running around and the water tab is releasing a huge amount of water over some dirty dishes. Looks like war in there, but from what I heard this is the normal condition in a kitchen at the peak times.
I return to my friends and the starters are already waiting. Looks delicious, but phuuu this is not a starter. The dish is enormous and that can’t be just a starter but hey, we are hungry and start eating. We all finished our starters in no time and nothing is left, really nothing. Not even a little space for the main course which is not served yet. We think they do not really apply portion control, how can someone eat so much? Anyway, we are fighters, we can do that. So we wait strained for the main course and make bets how much it will be
on the plate this time. And wow! We do not get disappointed. A plate with veggies, rice, meat and special sauce cover the plate so that you almost cannot see it any more. We start fighting our way through the food and we have to surrender. No chance anyone of us can finish the plate. What a pity! We look around us and check the plates from other guests. Everywhere the same scenario, a lot of left overs find their way back to the kitchen and get thrown away. That is a shame!
The food was good, but all of us are disappointed! It cannot be that you serve meals no one can finish. It cannot be that you serve meals with no fresh, seasonal ingredients. Food waste and local producers should be taken into consideration. We want to keep our eating habits sustainable! We want clean energy to be used in the gastronomy as well. We need to change our behaviour and create a better understanding about our eating habits.
We are living on the costs of people from other countries and on the costs of the nature. If every other person used the same amount of resources as an average European does, we would use 2.6 planets. Furthermore, everyone is talking about the energy revolution of Switzerland. We are just talking about the traffic costs which are responsible for 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions and the living costs with another 20%. However, food production is responsible for 30% from the human beings produced greenhouse gas emissions!
This is one reason of several, why we want to find ways to reduce this number in the food chain. Restaurants have the potential of reducing these emissions in connection with food through wise nourishment decisions. They can reduce up to 50 % of these greenhouse gas emissions! And we can do that without any technological improvements!
In order to make it more clear, here are some given facts:
One cheeseburger has the same effect on the climate as 500 hours of watching television has.
1kg of pork cause the same amount of CO2 as 80kg of potatoes.
Eating a climate friendly meal three times a week would change the world.
30% of foodstuff produced is wasted every year. In Switzerland this is around 1-2 billion tonnes every year.
With our project, we want to illustrate the advantages of a sustainable restaurant concept for the operator as well as for the customer. Regional and local products will be offered, the biologic agriculture supported and healthy meals served. They all have in common that the local Swiss economy will get supported, the efficiency will increase plus it is an active contribution to the environmental protection. With our new sustainable restaurant concept we aim to increase energy efficiency and water savings, decrease food waste with food recycling and the use of unshaped fruits and vegetables. Our menus consist of seasonal and local products in order to minimize transportation costs and carbon dioxide emissions. The menus are served in small dishes so that we counteract against food waste. The workforce is mainly from the region who work under fair working conditions and get treated fairly and the suppliers get paid fairly. Since the resources on our planet are scarce, with our sustainable restaurant concept we aim to increase the community engagement and give something back to the environment.
In order to meet the requirements to be a sustainable restaurant, the concept will be based on the “Sustainabuild” model and the different spheres are explained in detail below.
With this concept the focus clearly lies in the fact to have as less threats as possible to harm the environment. This includes the responsible usage of water and where possible the reuse of grey water, for example to flush the toilets. The utilization of renewable energy is one of the central aspects in the concept and the energy consumption in general needs to be controlled and monitored, in order to reduce consumption. An important topic as well is the cooperation with local farmers and producer. Like this we support the local industry and transport costs and CO2 emissions can be drastically reduced. Although a main focus is placed on the reduction of food waste, it will not be possible to completely eliminate it. Instead of just throwing the expired food or leftovers away, it will be reprocessed to animal feed or disposed in a biogas plant.
The purchase of the needed commodities is done in cooperation with local farmers and producer. Switzerland has a great variety for different commodities like wine, chees, meat, vegetables and fruits. Seasonal products will be found on the menu and guest will be convinced to enjoy locally produced organic food. With this cooperation the concept seeks to enhance the turnover for local farmers and support small production rather than giant food suppliers which is more sustainable in long term.
The reduction of costs through less waste and responsible energy consumption might be the most important aspect for restaurant seeking new methods. Nevertheless you cannot ignore the effect on the market with the change towards a sustainable use of energy and cooperation with local producers. There is need for this market and you can reach a whole new market segment with offers for guests which already pay attention to sustainable managed locations. This is a trend which cannot be ignored and this target group will get increasingly bigger since sustainability is getting more important in today’s society. Furthermore, local industries will be supported because the focus for the used products will be regional producers. With strong cooperation we can get away from mass production towards a demand driven production which at the same time reduces food waste.
As already mentioned the support of local economies and small scale producers is a core activity of the new concept and shows the strong social aspect and enhancement of the local industry. Furthermore, fair working conditions for all employees and well balanced contracts with the partners are the base of a long term relationship.
Technology plays the most important part in the concept. Without the right technology it will not be possible to launch the project. The cooking utensils need to be classified as less energy consuming, light bulbs might be replaced with environmentally friendly LED technic, solar panels need to be installed and a device which transfers the gained energy into the restaurant facilities. The reuse of the grey water needs the appropriate technology which has to be installed.
To create and raise awareness of the local population towards the sustainable restaurant concept and food waste management, a clear marketing plan needs to be developed. There is the need for such a product since more and more people pay great value to local production and responsible energy consumption. With these strong USP’s the marketing has a good base to launch a strong campaign and show the population that they have an influence on local suppliers and producers and can actively participate in making the world a better place. In addition to just provide a sustainable concept, it is important to sensitize the customers towards the topic. Show them ways how they can participate when they are at home and improve the thought of buying locally, reduce food waste and responsible energy consumption. If we succeed with this step, others will follow and everyone will gain.
In Switzerland we have a strong ecological awareness. The CO2 emission are less than the half of the average between the OECD countries. (world bank) In Switzerland a lot gets recycled but at the same time a big quality of rubbish is produced every year. The Swiss recycle more than 50 per cent, which is one of the best results in Europe. If we take the example of glass, the percentage recycled is 95%. (swissinfo, 2008) But we can see that there is still a big opportunity of improvement.
Even if Switzerland is a really small country we can find different cultures. Tradition plays an important role in Switzerland and differ within the different cantons. Also in the case of food there is a strong culture with typical Swiss products.
We can define the Swiss economic system as strong, considering the GDP growth and the GDP per capita as well as other macroeconomic factor such as unemployment and inflation.
In Switzerland people are confronted with a high price level, also considering the prices of the daily product. In fact, food is around two times as expensive in Switzerland as in Germany or Italy (UBS, 2015). Furthermore are the salaries in Switzerland quite high and this is why the prices of meals in a restaurant are above the European average.
In Switzerland we have a really high school enrolment (world bank) and people get increasingly more aware about what sustainability is, how important it is and what we can do in order to support it. Furthermore people get more and more interested in this topic.
Todays technology allow us to recycle some of the waste we produce, like glass, some types of plastic, paper, aluminum. Also thank of technological improvement we have the opportunity to buy low energy consuming kitchen machines or lamps.
Involvement in the society vary a lot. There are people which are more involve than other. In general it can be said that young people are less involved in politics and participate less in the political environment. In fact if we look at some statistics we can see that only 32% of young people vote, which means less than 1 out of 3. (cdt.ch, 2015)
3 Steps to reach the goal
This is going to be a crucial step, especially for already settled restaurants since the refurbishment costs will be a rather huge investment. Special attention needs to be placed on the long-term view and how restaurants can save costs through alternative energy and reduced commodity costs. The restaurants need to keep in mind that this investment is a long term investment and that it will pay off through reduced costs over the years of usage. Less food waste, local products and the utilization of alternative energy are clearly going to be the USP’s of those restaurants and therefore they can target the “green-thinking” community. A well-researched cost structure plan needs to be presented to reveal the advantages to set up a sustainable restaurant concept. Additionally to the cost saving measure there is a great opportunity to undergo an image change. More and more restaurant guests want to know where their food is coming from, if it is locally and organic produced and sustainably managed. Based on these criteria’s they select specific premises which fulfil their needs. In today’s society where sustainability gets more and more important there is great potential to be one of the role models for future restaurant developments. Furthermore, to be one of the first players in the market can help to boost the awareness of the restaurant and will have a great impact on the marketing strategy.
2. Implementation of the concept
For the implementation we can divide the project in two main steps. First are all steps that need to be done BEFORE starting a restaurant. In order to put into practice our idea you have to create a restaurant with machine and utensils that allow you to be sustainable. That mean energy efficient kitchen machines need to be installed, small menus introduced, like for example a additional weekly or daily menus. Also important is to have some long term contract with local suppliers and create cooperation with them. With cooperations everyone can be better off, therefore it is possible to reach a win-win situation. In order to be sustainable, products must be from biological production. Since the very beginning it is important to develop demand patterns so that you have an idea about the amount of the product you will need to buy. Clearly a restaurant need employees, first decide weather or not you need employees and if yes, hire them locally.
Also there are several points that need to be done WHILE doing business. For example you have to improve the demand pattern since the one you have developed before might not be as accurate as expected and then it is fundamental to follow the adaptions. Another sustainable point is to use as less packages as possible and avoid waste of all types, like for example using textile instead of paper towel. If some food is in the fridge and it is going to expire soon, it would be a great idea to sell it at a lower price instead of throwing it away.
3. Create awareness among the local population (Marketing, imagine branding)
There exist several ways how we want to create awareness about our sustainable restaurant concept among the local population. We see the information evenings as one of the most important ways. Thereby we would invite the people to come to the restaurant, inform them what behind the restaurant conception is, what sustainability is and what they can contribute in order to act in a sustainable way at home but also on one’s way. We would also present to the local population our local suppliers and make them aware how they can support them by buying their products. Furthermore, it is a possibility to offer them some snacks which show how tasty the food is and that it is worth it eating there.
In addition to the information evening, we would organize events about how we can reduce our food waste at home and with which methods we can extend the expiry date of certain products. These events should take place every one or two months and hopefully lead to a better brand awareness of the restaurant as well as to a change of their behavior. In order to increase people’s awareness of the restaurant and their events, we would write articles in the local newspaper about the restaurant itself, the new sustainable concept and about sustainability in general.
The restaurant concept is built on sustainable products and managed in a sustainable way. In order to increase people’s understanding, we aim to develop stories behind every dish the restaurant serves. That means that the guest can read about the food he has on his plate, he knows where it comes from and how much carbon dioxide was needed to grow certain products.