Access industry expertise.

Join Now
November 18, 2021

Five Easy Steps to Make Hospitality More Sustainable

How to build better practice into your business.

Words: Fred Siggins
Images: Kristoffer Paulsen

The idea of sustainability is all well and good, but how can venues actually make a difference? Here are five steps to get you started.

1. Buy Local

Global sea-freight shipping accounts for nearly 3 per cent of global man-made carbon emissions each year, and relies on some of the dirtiest oil-based fuels. When it comes to heavy items, like packaged beverages, the shorter the distance they travel, the better. Shipping a case of wine from Europe to Australia results in emissions of between two and five kilograms of CO2, depending on the ship. Simply buying wine, beer, spirits or olive oil from an Australian producer eliminates that altogether. The same goes for produce, of course, and local, seasonal fruit and veg tastes better, anyway. With Australians producing everything from wasabi to whisky these days, you don’t have to run your own farm to cook mindfully anymore. Lee Potter Cavanagh runs bar and restaurant Rosenbaum and Fuller in Sydney’s trendy Bondi Beach neighbourhood, using only Australian products. “When we first opened we were a little limited in some areas,” he says. “Now, only two and a half years later, there are more options than we could ever use.”

2. Buy In Bulk

At Bomba, a busy rooftop bar in Melbourne’s CBD, about a case a week of house vodka is poured out for thirsty patrons, almost all of it mixed with soda. But instead of pouring soda from a glass or plastic bottle, Bomba staff use a sparkling-water tap system. With about 150 mililitres of sparkling water used per drink, that equates to more than 20 litres each week – and 1000 litres each year – poured without glass or plastic bottles. These days tap systems, or bulk packaging options, are available for a wide range of high-quality wine, milk, spirits and cocktails. And, of course, beer from kegs and soft-drinks from post-mix guns are common and easy ways to reduce wasteful packaging in a service environment.

3. Get Help from the Government

Check your state government’s sustainability and small business websites for resources on how to make your business more energy and water efficient. The Queensland government’s EcoBiz program is free for small to medium businesses and provides access to checklists, auditing tools and expert advice. More than 90 per cent of participant businesses have recorded an increase in productivity and savings. In Victoria, the state government goes even further, offering small businesses discounts to cover up to 85 per cent of the cost to upgrade inefficient appliances and fixtures.

4. Get serious about food waste

While it’s bad to throw away food, at least it’s biodegradable. The real waste comes from all the water and energy it took to produce that food in the first place, so it’s best to avoid buying or serving more produce than needed. Big benefits can be achieved through simple steps like reducing portion sizes and completing food-waste audits. Venues that order whole animals and vegetables – which are then processed and served in-house – can vastly reduce their food waste. The Victorian government has a free program for hospitality businesses called Love Food Hate Waste, which provides an excellent starting point for venues to track and tackle food waste. Biodegradable-packaging supplier BioPak has just launched a platform called Compost Connect, which links venues with local biodegradable waste-collection services. And if you’re willing to do a little more legwork, try connecting with local farmers or community garden initiatives to see where else your organic waste can be used to reduce landfill and reliance on chemical fertilisers. 

5. Put your money where your mouth is

Most major commercial banks in Australia, and many super funds, are invested in fossil fuel and other environmentally destructive companies. So chances are your money is, too. Interest on business loans, credit card fees and superannuation helps to keep the world’s biggest polluters afloat. Thankfully, the financial tide is starting to turn, and ethical investment is becoming more accessible through super funds, commercial banks and financial advisories that won’t put your money into fossil fuels, logging, tobacco or other environmentally and ethically dubious stocks. With world governments coalescing around more ambitious climate goals, not to mention the plunging prices for renewable energy, green money is likely to pay off in coming years. 

More from A+


Get the A+ monthly newsletter delivered to your inbox: articles, news from around the world of hospitality, events and more.