While Aussies may love a BBQ in the backyard, we also love heading out for a bite at our local restaurant. And who can resist picking up a coffee in the morning on the way to work?

But apart from satisfying our hunger, the food and catering industry also has another responsibility – keeping down emissions.

Sustainability is the way of the future, and there are plenty of ways that Australian businesses can strive towards becoming more eco-friendly. Like any businesses, cafes and restaurants need to be considering the extent of their carbon footprint if they wish to endure.

Our increasingly fast-paced lifestyles have only increased demand for restaurant and cafe services, according to IbisWorld research. With the last estimate by the Australian Bureau of Statistics placing the number of cafe and restaurant businesses at well over 13,000, it’s fair to say that the industry could have a sizeable impact on our national commercial carbon emissions.

If you’ve read our recent blog about Australia’s clean energy goals and you’re feeling inspired, here are a few green ideas.

Water efficiency 

Any cafe or restaurant owner will be well aware of how quickly water bills can hike – from the constant running of glass washers to pot washing. Why not take the strain from your electricity bill with a solar hot water system?

By utilising the power of the Australian sun, you can not only significantly reduce your water heating bill, but also cut back on your reliance on traditional fossil fuel energies.

A greener solution, commercial solar hot water is also capable of handling the demands of a successful business. A recent case study conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that a Las Vegas restaurant chain fitted with evacuated tube solar collectors were able to save money without compromising on capability.

“For restaurants with a large hot water demand, solar water heating shields them from future price increases of natural gas. As natural gas prices climb, solar energy will provide even greater savings,” concluded the EPA.

Going the distance with produce 

One of the most taxing aspects of the catering industry is the distance food must travel before it ends up on the customer’s plate. Restaurants and cafes can reduce their emissions caused by food transportation by buying local produce, a choice which also supports local growers and suppliers.

Not only is this a wise move environmentally speaking, there is also the knock-on effect of the marketability of your green choices. Consumers like to know where they can find more sustainable establishments, so if you’ve got a good thing going, let your valued customers know.

A study by Ohio State University (OSU) has even found that more than 8 in 10 people would be willing to pay extra to eat at a sustainable restaurant.

“It is clear that green practices could be beneficial for restaurants. Customers want their restaurants to be environmentally friendly and say they’re willing to pay more for it,” said professor of consumer sciences at OSU Jay Kandampully.

“It would be a shame if restaurants don’t make use of that support,” he added.

Stay warm 

With the winter season settled in, restaurants and cafes will undoubtedly watch their power bill rise with the need to heat their indoor spaces. This can also be amplified when the use of outdoor seating becomes restricted by unfavourable weather, reducing covers.

Rather than burning through your electricity use, talk to Apricus about installing a hydronic heating system to take some of the strain away from your electric heaters. Hydronic heating uses the same solar collectors as your solar hot water system, and warms the room from the ground up, rather than the directional gusts produced by other fans.