Eat’n Park has been in business for almost 60 years, and we’ve come to realize that the natural resources we’ve been relying on all these years may not be around for future generations. So, we’ve been looking closely at how we are using these resources, and we continue to find ways in which we can reduce or change what we are using. In 2008, we formed a green committee that was made up of our CEO, VP of Operations, VP of Purchasing, VP of Marketing, VP of Facilities, and me. We spent a lot of time brainstorming areas of focus, to determine where we could make real and lasting changes.
Over the course of this year, we will be taking the following steps toward sustainability.
- Light bulbs – the majority of light bulbs used in our restaurants have been switched over to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL).
CFL’s emit the same light as classic incandescent bulbs but use 75% or 80% less electricity. To illustrate the impact of this, if every one of the 110 million American households bought just one CFL for their house and used it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people.
- Fryer oil – We use trans-fat-free canola oil in all of our locations, which is the preferred oil to be recycled into biodiesel fuel. We are working with bio-fuel producers in an effort to convert 100% of our spent oil to biodiesel fuel.
Biodiesel is a vegetable oil-based fuel that runs in unmodified diesel engines - cars, buses, trucks, construction equipment, boats, generators, and oil home heating units. Biodiesel is usually made from soy or canola oil, and can also be made from recycled fryer oil. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that Bio-diesel can reduce carbon emissions by 50%.
- Placemats – While being an important tool for marketing, we have eliminated placemats, which will save a tremendous amount of paper as well as the landfill space they occupy once they’ve been used.
Producing placemats required more than 325,000 pounds of paper every year, the equivalent of more than 250 trees. To make sure our tables are extra clean, we’ve enhanced our cleaning procedures to make our tables are spotless.
- Paper Towels – We have been testing high-speed hand dryers in our restaurants to reduce the amount of paper towels that are used.
Paper towels cannot be recycled. Once used, they must go to the landfill; therefore, hand dryers help reduce the need for landfill space, and they reduce the number of trees being cut to process paper towels.
- Remodeling Materials – During renovations or new construction, we use recycled raw materials, including table laminates, carpet, ceiling tiles and wallpaper.
- Local Sourcing – We developed our FarmSource program in 2002 to help reduce the miles food travels. Click here to read my other postings about some of the local farms we’ve partnered with.
In the United States, food now travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table, as much as 25 percent farther than two decades ago.
Until next time,
Update: Thanks to the steps mentioned above, we were just recognized by Pittsburgh Magazine for having the "Best Green Operations". Check it out here: Pittsburgh's Best of Green Share