I'm sure you will have noticed the renewed interest in reducing the pollution affecting our planet. It's a conversation we have been having at Limini Coffee for a while now and about what the coffee industry can do. There is no silver bullet when it comes to solving the environmental impact a coffee shop makes but there are a number of small changes that can make a difference.
Definitely a change you can take action on is finding ways to reduce waste before it happens and to reuse when it does. The benefit of waste management is that you will be doing your part to alleviate the strain on the world’s resources but can also increase the profitability of your business by reducing expenses.
One initiative would be to encourage cycling or car sharing to work. This helps reduce road congestion and car emissions but the benefits to employees are cheaper transport costs and reduced stress by sharing the driving during peak times. Even car sharing once a week will be a good start and can be built upon.
Like with all aspects of running a business, the more data you collect and can interpret the better it could operate. A good Point Of Sale system can help you understand what unnecessary waste is being made and why. It can keep track of what products are been recorded as wastage and help notice any patterns.
Food items that are not selling well and are being routinely wasted could be removed from the menu. Products with a very short shelf life could be replaced with frozen part-baked items and finished in-house. Your team should know when food is approaching 'use by' dates and up-sell it or offer samples to customers.
Record how often customer orders are made wrong and returned. Repeating orders back to a customer before payment and using a POS system that prints order dockets will result in less errors, save time and reduce waste.
If you notice used plates are being returned with uneaten food then consider if your portions sizes are too big. A menu manual for preparing food with the correct amount of ingredients means delivering a consistent product for guests and gives an accurate cost of sale.
Having a system for keeping reliable inventory levels and to carry out stock takes means you won't be risking ordering too much perishable items that will not be used in time. By using a POS system that can link what ingredients are used in products and tracking these in terms of sales you will be able to make smarter decisions when it comes to ordering from suppliers. Keeping an eye on over ordering means you will spend less and increase profits, and maybe even free up storage space.
Checking the dose weight of coffee being used to make espresso will make the quality of drinks more consistent and help against waste. Know your basket sizes and ensure they are not being over filled.
Milk waste is often a blind spot for baristas but using excess amounts can lead to a significant cost. If a barista makes 1oz of milk too much for every drink they make, then 100 drinks results in a 2.75ltr bottle wasted. Do that every day and it's a £500 loss over the year.
If you use concentrated cleaning chemicals make sure staff are trained to use the right amount when diluting them. Many need just 10ml per litre made so it's easy to over dose. Dispenser pumps can combat this.
Check suppliers for biodegradable cleaning cloths or if you have space for a washing machine, you could use microfibre cloths instead.
Ordering biodegradable paper and plastic take away products from eco-friendly companies is a great step but eliminating them where possible is ideal.
Many people are using reusable cups for take out drinks but it can sometimes be inconvenient to always carry one and to keep clean. Look out for local initiatives like deposit cups. Although this is in its early stages, some companies are trialling a scheme where customers pay a deposit for a reusable cup which can be handed over at participating coffee shops who will clean it and make your drink in a fresh one.
Refill.org is an initiative to reduce plastic bottle waste by encouraging business' to offer free tap water to anyone wanting to refill a reusable water bottle. Registering your business will include it on a map of refill stations which means free marketing for the shop. Research suggests the benefit to the coffee shop is increased sales by increasing footfall to the shop.
Single-use items such as sugar packets could be replaced with sugar bowls.
LED bulbs are a more cost efficient and environmentally friendly way of lighting your business.
The next time you purchase equipment check the energy efficiency rating. Goods are rated A to G, with A being the most efficient. Fridges and freezers go up to A+, A++ and A+++. Phase out poor performing equipment to reduce your electricity bill.
Hand washing dishes is a time consuming task for employees and can result in much more water waste than investing in a commercial dishwasher. The time staff save can be put to more rewarding duties.
Swapping to a provider that solely uses renewable energy could also be a good move and the government offers free energy audits that will highlight any action you could take to make your premises more energy efficient.
Researching waste management companies can also be useful, do the independents in your area offer incentives for recyclable waste?
You can further reduce the carbon footprint created by looking at your supply chain. Choosing to use UK based suppliers means less emissions from transporting goods but its not always that straightforward. Tomatoes grown in Spain under natural conditions have less environmental impact than UK tomatoes grown in power hungry commercial green houses.
Talk to your suppliers about their green practices. What are you suppliers doing to be more environmentally friendly?
Here at Limini Coffee we have put in to place numerous green practices that we are proud of and you can read about them here.
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