JULY 2011

New research shows consumers prefer to visit restaurants that recycle

Roughly two-thirds of the nation’s restaurateurs have recycling programs as part of their sustainability efforts, according to a new study conducted by the National Restaurant Association in partnership with Georgia-Pacific Professional.

The research, which will be released at the 2011 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, also shows that three out of five consumers prefer to visit restaurants that have recycling practices in place.

The study provides a comprehensive overview of restaurant recycling practices that will help operators meet consumer needs, enhance their environmental programs and be more profitable.

Highlights of the restaurant recycling study include:

  • Sixty-five percent of restaurateurs currently have a recycling program in place, and 13 percent participate in composting programs.
  • Seventy-four percent of restaurateurs who recycle do so in the kitchen and office areas, while 43 percent have a program in the dining room and other customer-facing areas.
  • Nearly three out of four (72 percent) restaurant operators use products made from recycled materials; the most common of these items were bags, paper products and food containers.
  • Sixty percent of consumers say they prefer to visit a restaurant that recycles.
  • A strong majority of consumers (85 percent) say they sort recyclables in quickservice restaurants if receptacles are provided.
  • About half of consumers (51 percent) say they are willing to pay a little more at a restaurant that recycles.

The research supports the development of best practices for restaurant operators by the National Restaurant Association through its Conserve: Solutions for Sustainability initiative. The Conserve website provides free tips, tools and resources for restaurant operators to continue to develop their environmental sustainability programs, including waste reduction and recycling.