Greening Your Restaurant & Food Service Business


Thank you to everyone who participated in SCOCO’s Greening Your Restaurants and Food Service Business Workshop in February! We have compiled these notes to bring you a summary of the discussion. 


Howard Cummins, Green Restaurant Strategies


Two different restaurants can produce the exact same meal, one being “green”, and the other not.  Often restaurants making the effort to be sustainable aren’t getting credit for it.


Challenges restaurants face on the path to becoming sustainable:

  • Restaurateurs don’t have time to find green resources
  • Inefficient use of resources
  • Time constraints
  • High staff turnover
  • Outdates management, organization

In the Future:

  • Costs will increase
  • More government regulation mandating green business practices
  • More consumer demand for green business practices

Contact Howard at www.Green Restaurant


Operations Panel


Rinta Perkins, Clean Water Program

The program’s goal is to reduce waste in the everyday water supply. (i.e. anything dumped into the storm drain goes directly into creeks and the bay WITHOUT being treated). Rinta inspects 130 businesses per year.


Goals of the program:


Bart Carr, Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority

Bart works for the Food Waste Recycling program.


Facts about the program:

  • They partner with Allied Waste and EBMUD
  • They collect food waste and process it, generating methane gas
  • 100% of the gas collected is used to create green electricity
  • Excess electricity is put back into the PG&E grid
  • This program is FREE of charge to restaurants
  • Visit


Jennifer Brennan, Allied Waste Recycling Program


Facts about the program:

  • Goes to business to set up recycling program to reduce waste
  • Many restaurants reduce their waste by1/3 to 2/3
  • Restaurants can reduce their waste further if there area includes the food waste program
  • This is a FREE service
  • Find out more at


Peter Chastain, Prima Ristorante

Peter is the Executive Chef at Prima Ristorante in Walnut Creek, CA.  He has successfully implemented many green business practices in his kitchen. He shared many of his practices and thoughts with us:

  • Prima separates their wet garbage (not beneficial economically, but DOING good)
  • Employees correctly dispose of leftover grease
  • Employees do not wash floor mats outside

Other “food for thought” from Peter:

  • Using green practices makes employees feel like participants in the community, alongside the customers
  • Everyone wants to be green.  A lot of time we aren’t fully accomplishing that, but we do what we can and try to combat cynicism.
  • At this point in time, we should look for attitude change.  Businesses should VOLUNTEER to make positive changes.
  • Restaurants should think about this when deciding to implement green practices:  We didn’t abolish slavery because it was economical, but because it was morally reprehensible.
  • You may contact Peter at




Lynn Kutsal, Nature’s Bounty

Lynn is the founder and owner of Nature’s Bounty café and catering.  She started out using organic ingredients and sustainable practices. Here are some of her thoughts:

  • Now is a great time to be a green business.  Consumers are looking for it and there are likely to be mandates for businesses to become more sustainable in the future.
  • Nature’s Bounty uses recyclable containers rather than compostable, since there are more opportunities for customers to recycle than compost.
  • Nature’s Bounty has several customers that pick up their green waste for their own composting effort.  This works great for the business and the community.
  • Having this business helps educate customers about organic foods.  It is good for people to see that it tastes great and really is just normal food.
  • Contact Lynn at


Alison Negrin, Executive Chef at John Muir Health

Alison works to serve balanced meals to patients at John Muir.  She also tries to implement green practices whenever possible.  Here are some of her thoughts:

  • John Muir Health purchases from sustainable sources whenever possible
  • Believes in holistic nutrition and “Healthcare without harm”
  • Often takes her ideas from patient’s feedback
  • Alison is faced with the challenge of providing meals specific to patients’ dietary needs.
  • In general, John Muir hospital has reduced the amount of meat used in meals.
  • They offer more vegetarian meals in the main menu

 Greg Stevens, Excellent Packaging

Sustainable Packaging vs. Conventional


Pulp-based, Sugarcane and Straw packaging:

  • Microwavable
  • Freezer safe
  • Insulated
  • Cost-Effective


  • 80% plant starch
  • Durable
  • Withstands high heat
  • Grab n Go
  • Renewable
  • Cellulose film

Contact Greg directly (


Cutting Costs with Energy Efficiency, Richard Young

Richard is the Senior Engineer and Director of Education at Food Service Technology Center, a program that provides free services and resources, operated by PG&E



  • Appliance testing lab (energy star rebates, etc)
  • On-site energy monitoring
  • FREE energy surveys (potentially saving customers $$)
  • Information sharing
  • FREE monthly seminars


  • Food service is energy intensive
  • Saving energy and water is a successful business strategy


  • Efficient lighting is like hitting a75% off sale
  • Replace old-school light bulbs with CFL’s
  • Decorative CFL’s are readily available

 Efficient Equipment

  • Find energy equipment for your business
  • Check for possible rebates for equipment


  • Every drop of water costs you three times: water, sewer, heating energy
  • Install a low-flow, pre-rinse valve (visit )
  • Replace hand-sink aerators
  • Even a small leak can waste a huge amount of water
  • Leaky toilets can cost up to $400/month
  • Track your water bills!!

And remember…The greenest energy is the energy you never use!


Contact Richard and see the library of energy information at


Contra Costa County Green Business Program, Robin Bedell-Waite

The Green Business Program--run by the County of Contra Costa--has certified over 300 businesses in Contra Costa!


The Bay Area Green Business Program received the coveted Governor's Award for Environmental & Economic Leadership—because of our successful work in promoting sustainability with businesses. But by far the most important accomplishments have been the actions taken by businesses to protect and preserve our environment. We believe that what's good for the environment is also good for business.



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