Foodservice Opinions

Opinion pieces on the foodservice equipment and supplies industry from leaders and laymen from all aspects of the business, including dealers, distributors, design consultants and multi-unit operators.

Tips for Green Products and Cleaners

Scott-AttmanScott 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.

Justifying Capital Foodservice Projects

On a much more frequent basis, foodservice professionals need to justify capital projects as facilities age, equipment fails or customers demand new services. At the same time, the C-suite faces increased financial pressures, which result in the organization's most valuable capital projects requiring funding approval before moving forward. This combination becomes challenging for operators when, by nature, foodservice capital projects face tough scrutiny. Without a solid financial analysis detailing the return on investment (ROI), a project stands little chance for approval.

Talking Peer to Peer

If there is one lesson that I have learned well through my association with FE&S over the years, it is the tremendous value of peer recognition. I have listened spellbound as award winners from DSR of the Year to Hall of Famer to Top Achievers to Dealer of the Year have graciously accepted their place among the very best in the industry at the FE&S Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala.

Lessons Learned from the Wounded Warrior Project

A couple of years ago the Wounded Warrior Unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center made headlines for all of the wrong reasons. The facility was outdated and in poor shape. Simply put, the facility was beneath the level of quality that the U.S. soldiers who had sacrificed so much for our country deserved.

The Drive toward Zero Energy Waste

Zero food waste is the next frontier in going green for foodservice operatiors.

Labor Management Is Not for the Birds — Industrial Engineering Can Help

Trying to manage labor challenges is enough to make most foodservice and retail operators want to stick their heads in the sand. Doing so, however, creates other opportunities for the business to fail. That's where applying activity-based labor management techniques, a core principle of industrial engineering, can help foodservice and retail operators eliminate at least one bull's-eye.

When Innovations Become the Norm

In a world full of me-too competitors, it is sometimes difficult to recognize true innovation. I was struck by this thought as I read this month's facility design project, which profiles Danforth Dining Hall. Much of what this University of Rochester project features will seem somewhat familiar to you: open prep areas, vegetarian and vegan options, Mongolian grill, and air conditioning. (It's OK to smile if you hadn't realized that there were still places in the continental United States that, up to this point, thought they could get by without air conditioning.)

Keep the Discussion Going

Last year I got up on my soap box and wrote an article entitled "A Climate of Denial." The article discussed how the foodservice equipment industry's business model changed to one where everyone buys direct thus destroying or eliminating entire channels of distribution. For years I have written articles for publications and never received a response like this: 254 emails or phone calls. And these calls and letters weren't to touch base but to share opinions.

The Art of Collaboration: MAS and Design Consultants Working Together

The expectations for today's foodservice operations continue to mount. The net result is that the process to design and build a new foodservice operation or remodel an existing one has never been more complex