5 Tips For Becoming More Sustainable
In the franchise world, sustainability can equal profitability. Consumers are looking more and more for businesses to take initiative with eco-friendly actions that show commitment to corporate social responsibility. Becoming more sustainable not only attracts customers, but helps a business to save money while saving the planet, too. Not sure where to start? Here are five tips to consider when beginning a journey to sustainability:
1. Evaluate Inventory, Usage Habits, and Waste Creation
One of the easiest ways to become more eco-friendly is to simply create less waste, especially when it comes to franchises like restaurants that order large amounts of food products and perishable ingredients. Food waste is a growing issue, and throwing away food is like throwing away dollar bills - not to mention the harmful methane gas that food waste creates in landfills. To prevent waste, streamline the gap between inventory and usage. Because perishable items have a set lifecycle, align order size with demand for each individual facility to minimize the amount of product that goes to waste. Run a simple audit by asking employees to monitor and record how much food is being thrown away at the end of shifts. After evaluating this for each location, make necessary adjustments to purchase orders and delivery schedules to reduce the amount wasted.
With non-restaurant chains, a similar process can be run for any type of consumable good that creates waste. Convenience stores might notice one type of soda isn't selling quickly, and can reduce carbon emissions by changing the product's delivery schedule. Spas that run laundry loads on a set schedule might realize these loads are only at half capacity, and can implement a policy to only run when full. No matter the type of facility, sustainable solutions can always be found once operations are properly examined.
2. Recycle - Properly
Recycling is one of the easiest ways to make a franchise business more sustainable. If a program is not currently in place, multi-unit franchisees are actually in a good position to implement one as they can leverage their high number of stores to secure a better hauling contract. Look for a hauler that can recycle different types of waste streams, like cardboard, glass, and plastic. Set up bins in each facility, and invest in training time with staff to educate them on the new changes. Participation and proper recycling techniques are imperative, as it is easy to contaminate an entire batch of recycling with non-recyclable substances. Once a bin is contaminated, it must go to the landfill instead of being repurposed as intended.
3. Reduce Single-Use Plastic Wherever Possible
Single-use plastic is one of the worst environmental culprits. Items like straws, lids, cups, and cutlery have short lives in the consumer world, but incredibly long lives in the landfill. Single-use plastic also pollutes oceans and waterways, harming wildlife. One of the biggest changes a franchisee can make is to reduce plastic use by offering alternative options like reusable cutlery, biodegradable to-go boxes, and paper straws. If substitutions are not an option, tactics like providing certain items, like straws or plastic bags for to-go containers, only when explicitly asked will help to reduce passive waste.
4. Small Changes Over Many Stores Add Up Quickly
When implementing a sustainable change, remember that as a franchisee, the positive effects are amplified by the number of stores being operated. Taking even the smallest steps, like using digital documents instead of printed paperwork or replacing paper towel holders with air dryers, can be beneficial in regards to a positive environmental impact, as well as a cost-savings impact.
5. Spread the Word
Sustainable changes should be celebrated. Internally, let employees know about environmental improvements. Staff will be proud to work for someone who cares not only about them, but about the community and planet, too. Externally, making the commitment public can draw in consumers, who will appreciate and support the eco-friendly efforts.
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