The National Restaurant Association, Washington, D.C., unveiled new research that shows a substantial number of restaurant operators are implementing sustainability best practices into their businesses.

The survey of 1,000 full-service and quick-service operators found that nearly three quarters of operators recycled used fryer oil, fats and grease. More than six in 10 recycled their cardboard and paper, used compact fluorescent lighting and bought products made of recycled materials. And, about three in 10 installed faucet aerators to conserve water.

"More operators are looking at ways to increase efficiency—environmentally and fiscally," says Scott DeFife, executive vice president, policy and government affairs. "Restaurateurs today know a lot more about how sustainability [and] can reduce utility costs and, in some cases, increase profitability."

Key findings determined that:

  • 74% recycled their used fryer oil, fats and grease.
  • 66% recycled cardboard and paper.
  • 63% used compact fluorescent lighting.
  • 61% purchased products made of recycled materials.
  • 48% installed low-flush toilets or waterless urinals.
  • 41% purchased products that can be composted.
  • 29% installed aerators on faucets.
  • 22% donated leftover food to food banks or similar organizations.
  • 17% composted food waste.