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  • Michael Oshman

How to Cut Down on Paper Waste at Your Restaurant

Scientists estimate that the majority of Earth’s rainforests will be completely gone within the next 100 years. Forests are chopped down for cattle grazing, providing pulp for paper products, and sourcing fuel or building materials. Restaurants generate more than 1.5 billion pounds of paper waste per year on receipts alone. There are many tree-based products in restaurants that could be eliminated entirely, recycled, or made from salvaged or recycled materials.

All types of restaurants can find ways to reduce their “paper footprint” in everyday actions.

Below are four options to help a restaurant improve its waste management.

Going Paperless

Restaurants can “go paperless” in the front and back of house and in the office space. A few ways you can transition into “going paperless” include:

  • Paperless payroll services

  • Digital gift cards

  • Emailing receipts

  • Requesting paperless billing with vendors

Hand Dryers

Customers and employees alike overestimate the number of paper towels needed to dry their hands. Instead of paper towels in restrooms, restaurant owners can invest in high efficiency hand-dryers, such as models by Excel Dryer and World Dryer. These models are designed to be energy-efficient by using less power per use. High efficiency hand dryers save utility costs in the long-term and remove the need to consistently order more paper towels, which means you can often see a return on your investment in just one year. Removing paper towels from restrooms earns a restaurant two GreenPoints™ toward certification.

Reusable and Recycled Napkins

Restaurants can also invest in cloth napkins for their front-of-house serving, but for places where this is not realistic, post-consumer recycled napkins are great choice. Tork, an Essity Brand's Certified Green napkins are processed chlorine-free and made of 90% post-consumer waste. Post-consumer napkins are made of previously-used paper products that have been diverted from landfills and repurposed into second-use paper. Napkins, in turn, can be composted to avoid landfills as well.

Reuse and Recycle Packaging

Owners can also repurpose the packaging their produce, meat and even dry goods are delivered in. Egg crates can be reused and cardboard not covered with toxic inks or glossy finishes can be commercially recycled and converted into post-consumer cardboard packaging or other paper products.

What Consumers Can Do:

- Be aware of how much paper towels you use when drying hands in the restroom.

- Bring your own to-go container if the restaurant allows or encourages it.

- Bring your own coffee mug.

- Bring your own bags for carry out.

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