E&S Extra

Editorial Director Joe Carbonara provides insights and commentary on the state of the foodservice equipment and supplies marketplace.


Accounting for Sustainability

The term sustainability is far from new. All the way back in 1987, a United Nations commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” That’s heady stuff, and yet most of us would agree that it’s pretty important, too.

Joe Carbonara editor hsThe foodservice industry, for its part, continues to embrace sustainability more and more.

For example, when asking foodservice operators about the steps they take to make their businesses more sustainable, they often will say they only specify ENERGY STAR-rated equipment. That’s a great jumping-off point. The ENERGY STAR label, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (page 66), remains a well-recognized beacon for conservation in both the workplace and the home. Operators should specify and use ENERGY STAR-rated equipment whenever those items best meet the application requirements for both production and energy efficiency.

At last check, though, there were only nine commercial foodservice equipment categories that qualified for ENERGY STAR ratings. That leaves a lot of other types of equipment not included. The items in many of these categories continue to evolve because most equipment manufacturers rightly continue to push the envelope when it comes to energy efficiency and the various other ways their wares impact the environment.

Even better, it’s worth noting the EPA continues to build on its now decades-long track record of partnering with the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers and other stakeholders, like the Foodservice Technology Center, to continue to propel the industry forward with well-thought-out standards to keep raising the energy-efficiency bar.

All-electric kitchens represent a topic generating a lot of buzz at the moment. Various state and local governments continue to enact one-off forms of legislation that will lead to more all-electric kitchens being built. At the same time, though, the infrastructure necessary to support all-electric kitchens lags woefully behind. Greater investment in electrical grid infrastructure in markets across the country is a must moving forward.

That will become even more evident as chain restaurants continue to expand their sustainability initiatives. The short of it is, sustainability does not happen in a vacuum. Each foodservice operation has a slightly different take on how sustainability fits into its overall goals and objectives. That’s why incorporating proper sustainability efforts requires thoughtful consideration and planning on the parts of the operators, often in conjunction with consultants and other members of the supply chain.

That’s why FE&S kicks off the new year with an issue dedicated to sustainability. The brainchild of my colleague Renee Pas, this issue tackles foodservice’s complex relationship with sustainability with the goal of providing not only an update on where the industry stands today but also where it’s headed.