DEP TO HOST WORKSHOP FOR RESTAURANT INDUSTRY ON BEST GREEN
PRACTICES, SUSTAINABILITY MEASURES TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE
(18/P080) TRENTON – As part of its efforts to address climate change and air pollution, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is co-hosting a free workshop on Monday, Sept. 17 on incentives and green best practices to help the restaurant industry become more sustainable.
The DEP is partnering with the Rutgers EcoComplex, Sustainable Princeton and Princeton University’s Office of Sustainability to host “Restaurants For Tomorrow.” The workshop will introduce restaurants, diners and related food-service business owners and managers to initiatives they can take to “go green,” including how to comply with a new law to reduce food waste.
“Restaurants are a billion-dollar industry in New Jersey that also serve as the heart of their communities,” Assistant Commissioner for DEP’s Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability Paul Baldauf said. “This workshop will provide owners and operators tools they can use to cut costs while being socially and environmentally responsible. At the same time, they will be giving customers ideas they can take home with them.”
New Jersey in 2017 passed a law establishing a food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030. The law requires the DEP, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, to develop a plan with public input to accomplish this goal.
The DEP is working with various stakeholders -- food and grocery industries, businesses, food banks, schools and universities, environmental groups and others -- to develop a draft plan to promote strategies to reduce food waste at the source of loss and to educate consumers about ways they can reduce food waste. Once a draft plan is developed, the DEP will hold a series of public meetings to gather further public input and finalize the plan.
The environmental and societal benefits associated with food waste reduction are significant. Landfill disposal capacity is saved through effective waste reduction programs, energy is saved by only producing the amount of food that is eaten, and air pollution is reduced because waste does not have to be transported to disposal sites. When food waste is buried in landfills, it decomposes and generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
The half-day workshop will feature keynote speaker Jon McConaughy, owner and general manager of Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell, Mercer County. The program begins at 8:30 a.m. at Princeton University’s Frist Campus Center, Frist Lane, in Multipurpose Room Level B. Space is limited.
Participants may interact with experts from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program and the Rutgers EcoComplex, as well as the DEP’s divisions of Solid and Hazardous Waste and Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability. They will also tour Princeton University’s new in-vessel digester for food scraps.
“Food is obviously important to all of us, as essential nutrition, as a social binder, as a teacher and connection with our local region and the world,” Princeton University Office of Sustainability Director Shana Weber said. “The impact we can all have through how we interact with food and food systems is profound. We can improve soil vitality, water quality, supply chains, living wages, human health, wildlife habitat and much more. This workshop has the potential to accelerate the very positive impacts we can have collectively. We’re excited to be a part of it.”
Sustainable practices have many benefits for businesses, from attracting and retaining customers to positively impacting finances. A 2016 study by Deloitte and the non-profit ReFED shows that the U.S. restaurant sector generates approximately 11 million tons of food waste annually, which amounts to more than $25 billion in disposal costs. By making eco-friendly or green choices and following sustainable practices, the restaurant industry can save money and increase profits.
“Princeton’s restaurants are critical to the vibrancy of our community,” Sustainable Princeton Executive Director Molly Jones said. “We are eager to help our restaurants realize cost savings, reduce their environmental impact and offer the green food service practices customers now demand.”
A number of restaurants and food purveyors practice sustainability by using locally sourced ingredients, conserving energy, avoid single-use plastics and reducing waste, all of which benefit public health.
“Rutgers EcoComplex believes that restaurants are an essential link in the food supply chain,” Rutgers EcoComplex Clean Energy Innovation Center Director Dr. Serpil Guran said. “Achieving restaurant sustainability will not only benefit restaurants’ bottom line but also help them to reduce their carbon and water footprint, reduce waste generation, efficiently utilize their organic waste and serve healthier food to New Jerseyans.”
To register for the workshop, visit https://restaurants-for-tomorrow.eventbrite.com
To learn how to reduce food waste at home, visit www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/recycling/Foodwaste.pdf
For more about the DEP’s Division of Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability, visit www.nj.gov/dep/daq/
Follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP.