How do you reduce your footprint as a sustainable restaurant?

Delicious as well as sustainable food delivered by a restaurant: an emerging trend among consumers. More and more people are becoming aware of the impact that a high footprint has on the climate. Unfortunately, few delivery restaurants realize the necessity of the situation. Therefore, a sustainable menu is often looked at as a constraint instead of an opportunity or win-win situation. It can indeed be a win-win situation when you, as a sustainable restaurant, can simultaneously reduce your footprint and increase your profits through some smart adjustments. How this can be achieved is what we discuss in this blog. 


“Are consumers receptive to sustainable restaurants?”

9 out of 10 people consider sustainability to be an important issue and 49% claims to live sustainably themselves (Ruseler, 2021). A sustainable lifestyle also refers to the type of restaurants consumers order from. This is reflected in the consumption behavior of consumers: In 2021, Dutch consumers spent 21% more money on sustainable food compared to 2019 (Van Geneijgen, 2021).

Thus, the ecological dilemma is indeed one that consumers now take seriously. Today’s customers demand responsibility from companies, and thus also from delivery restaurants. They expect them to act responsibly with respect to their footprint, the meals they offer and the packaging materials they use.


“And how do I, as a restaurant owner, benefit from a lower footprint?”

In addition to a moral argument, there is also a financial argument for restaurants to become sustainable. As a delivery restaurant, you want to offer what your target market asks for. When the needs of your target group changes, you will have to adjust based on this change by changing what you offer to your customers. Previously, we wrote a blog about how you, as a delivery restaurant, can respond to this trend. Read it here!

Do your customers demand sustainable meals, and do they care about sustainable restaurants trying to reduce their footprint? If yes, then they are most likely willing to pay 1 to 2 euros extra for such meals as well. A missed opportunity if you do not offer them this option. Moreover, there is often a high margin to be made on vegetarian and vegan dishes because of the relatively low purchasing costs. Do your customers care about sustainable packaging? Stop using plastic packaging materials, reduce your footprint and inform your customers about it.

When you know how to effectively respond to the needs of your customers, it will benefit your restaurant. Doing so, you offer your customers a better experience, they will express themselves positively about your sustainable delivery restaurant in their environment and will also come back more often. In short, a sustainable restaurant is beneficial for all parties!


Calculating your ecological footprint as a sustainable restaurant: some useful tools

One way to get insights into the sustainability of your restaurant is to calculate your ecological footprint. That footprint, also known as the carbon footprint, can be defined as “the calculation of an organization’s total greenhouse gas emissions” (Climate Neutral Group, 2021). A broad term which includes your food production, transportation, meal preparation and waste management. All of these processes affect the footprint of a restaurant, sustainable or not.

There are several tools and calculators available that allow you to make an estimate of your ecological footprint. A few are highlighted below:

  1. My Emissions Food Calculator: A tool that allows you to easily and quickly calculate the footprint of dishes. The results are based on global averages.
  2. Food Emissions: With this calculator, you can make detailed calculations of the footprint of each ingredient used, including production-, transportation- and waste-emissions. Please note that the preparation and packaging of meals is not included in this calculator.
  3. Climate Neutral Group: This company offers a (tailor-made) method available for every type of organization to calculate its carbon footprint. You won’t find a simple tool here, but Climate Neutral Group might be an interesting party to get in contact with.


The average ecological footprint of delivery restaurants

It can be beneficial for delivery restaurants to be able to compare their calculated footprint to other (comparable) delivery restaurants and sustainable restaurants. Unfortunately, little is known about the average ecological footprint of delivery restaurants. A survey of 23 restaurants with a French-Dutch cuisine, conducted by Natuur & Milieu and Greendish (2019), showed an average of 4.2 kg CO2-eq per dish.

As a (future) sustainable restaurant, you might be interested in obtaining a sustainability certificate. Examples are the Green Globe and the Green Key certificate. For the criteria of these certificates, we recommend you to contact the institutions that distribute these certificates.


5 Tips for reducing your carbon footprint as a restaurant

Tip 1: Make use of sustainable packaging materials and start with waste separation

What works and what doesn’t work with regard to packaging and waste varies from sustainable restaurant to sustainable restaurant. For example, some takeout restaurants have successfully implemented reusable packaging with a deposit on it, reducing their footprint. Burger King tested this extensively in 2020 (Business Insider Netherlands, 2020). Deliveroo on the other hand, offers customers of affiliated delivery restaurants in Paris and London the option to return packaging so it can be reused again after it being washed (Marston, 2021).

A more accessible measure is to stop giving a plastic bag, cutlery and wipes with orders by default. To accommodate your customers who do still need this, you can continue to offer the option. But now for a small fee. In addition, you can make strides by using environmentally friendly packaging materials such as straws made from bamboo. There is often also room for improvement on the shop floor at many delivery restaurants. Do you already separate waste in your kitchen and restaurant?


Tip 2: A sustainable restaurant requires sustainable ingredients and meals

It was mentioned earlier: consumers expect a sustainable restaurant to act responsibly with respect to the meals they offer. The basis of these meals? Ingredients!

First, you can prevent your ingredients from having travelled all over the world before they arrive at your restaurant. In other words, buy your ingredients locally! Second, naturally each ingredient has a different footprint. Differences in footprint between ingredients are often bigger than people think. By making conscious choices, also taking into account the needs of your customers, there is a lot to win. Next to that, in many cases, a more sustainable menu also better meets the needs of your target group. A study by Natuur & Milieu and Greendish (2019) shows that there is room for more vegetables (30%), and less meat (20%) in the composition of meals, without this negatively influencing customer satisfaction.

Unfortunately, you often see vegetarian and/or vegan dishes given a separate place on the menu at a sustainable restaurant. As a result, there are many people who overlook these dishes or don’t even consider them. We therefore recommend that you do not only offer sustainable dishes, but that you also give them a prominent place on your menu.


Tip 3: Prevent food waste with an inventory management system

Globally, 25-30% of food is still being wasted due to factors such as spoilage, damage and overproduction (Natuur & Milieu & Greendish, 2019). In terms of food waste, it is relatively easy to improve as a sustainable restaurant by implementing an inventory management system. Yet, few delivery restaurants use such a system in their pursuit to reduce their footprint.

In addition, a more sustainable composition of meals can reduce food waste (Wageningen University & Research, s.d.). Customers received twice as many vegetables on their plates during an experiment, and 13% less meat. Reactions were generally positive while less food was wasted.


Tip 4: Offer your customers the option to compensate their footprint

You see it happening more often, the option for customers to compensate their purchases by donating a small amount of money which will benefit the climate. For instance, it is possible to compensate your air travel and your purchased clothes. Why would a sustainable delivery restaurant not offer this option? Calculate the average emissions of an order, and give customers the option on the payment page of your order website to donate a small amount of money. Doing so, it is important that the destination of this money flow is clearly explained. This allows you to solve (some of) the possible mistrust of customers. Social media can also be an effective way to inform your customers about this topic.


Tip 5: Use sustainable transportation for delivery and make routes as efficient as possible with the CashDesk delivery app

Transporting meals is an important process for delivery restaurants. Many choices have to be made, but there are also plenty of opportunities to optimize this process. Do you opt for scooters, E-bikes or a combination of both? Every alternative has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Do you want to be looked at as a sustainable restaurant? Then we recommend choosing the option with the lowest footprint: E-bikes or electric scooters.

A more efficient delivery process with lower delivery times leads to a more sustainable delivery process and, thus, a lower footprint. The CashDesk delivery app offers a solution. Through the app, your delivery drivers will have all order information available on their phones. They can easily navigate to the delivery address through the menu in the app. The quickest route is automatically mapped out!


What are the first changes you will implement as a future sustainable restaurant?

Of course, there are many alternative possibilities for sustainable restaurants to reduce your footprint. We have highlighted the abovementioned possibilities because they seemed most effective to start with. Making step-by-step changes keeps things manageable for both your employees and yourself. For example, focus on two changes each year, and plan a moment to reflect on them. Customers and employees will appreciate such initiatives which benefits your image. In short, making the switch to a sustainable restaurant is a win-win situation. For you, as a restaurant owner, and for your customers!

On our website, also take a look at ‘services’ such as the delivery app and/or other smart software solutions for delivery restaurants!

Questions? Please contact one of our employees at 020-8202196!



  • Business Insider Nederland. (2020, 23 oktober). Burger King doet een proef met statiegeld op herbruikbare doosjes en bekers.
  • Climate Neutral Group. (2021, 18 oktober). CO2 Footprint.
  • Marston, J. (2021, 15 juni). Deliveroo Is Running a Reusable Container Program in Paris. The Spoon.
  • Natuur & Milieu & Greendish. (2019, augustus). Restaurants van morgen.
  • Ruseler, S. K. M. (2021, 7 oktober). Belgische consumenten hechten vandaag meer belang aan duurzaamheid dan vóór COVID-19. Copyright UBA 2021.
  • Van Geneijgen, W. (2021, 24 september). Omzet duurzame producten in supermarkt steeg in 2020. Eatly.
  • Wageningen University & Research. (z.d.). Gezonder eten in restaurants door inzicht in gedrag. WUR.

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