Published: September 4, 2012
Written by Scott Attman
Scott AttmanWhen researching environmentally friendly options it is easy to become confused by greenwashing, which overpromises the impact of certain products. With this in mind, it helps to have a few tips on what to look for when navigating the forest of green options.
Understand the difference between compostable and biodegradable.
The term biodegradable commonly appears in many product descriptions but it does not necessarily mean what you think. Biodegradable implies the products will breakdown in a landfill but this does not suggest that the rate of decomposition means it is safe for a permanent stay in the environment. Compostable products represent the true standard for items that maximize sustainability.
Compostable products and materials turn into soil and organic matter, meaning they are most acceptable for re-entry to the environment. In order to earn this designation, companies must obtain the compostable label through certifications from such organizations as the Biodegradable Products Institute or the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Green Cleaning Products – Look for the Green Seal Designation
The foodservice industry requires multiple cleaners of varying strengths and uses due to the different surfaces and spills or messes that need attention. Green Seal-certified products are the best-known alternatives to chemically based items.
For bathrooms and hand-washing stations Green Seal-certified soaps and hand towels are excellent replacements to traditional options. Foam soaps require less water and hands-free systems for soaps and towel dispensing cut costs even further.
Foodservice operators most commonly use green cleaning products for glass, surface and floor cleaning. When it comes to tasks that involve de-greasing, foodservice operators can choose from plenty of Green Seal-certified products capable of replacing traditional cleaners, though they may not always be quite strong enough due to their less caustic formulations. Peroxide-based products provide comparable green alternatives but whether using them is appropriate depends on the operation because the strength of chemicals still generally reigns supreme.
To properly control costs, most of these systems include options for dilution control. The systems allow manufacturers and distributors to ship products in concentrate form via recyclable containers to reduce carbon footprints while also reducing the impact to the waste stream.
As green products and cleaners become more mainstream foodservice operators must continue to be aware of these advancements to reduce their environmental impact while also maintaining an operational bottom line. Because truly implementing green or environmentally friendly solutions without compromising an operation's bottom line or brand promise requires foodservice professionals to wipe away the green washing by making informed purchases.