The National Restaurant Association announced the release of its first-ever sustainability report, which examines trends and initiatives within the restaurant industry, such as food waste reduction, composting, recycling and cost-efficient energy solutions.

"Sustainability and waste reduction are increasingly important issues across the restaurant and foodservice industry," said Scott DeFife, EVP, Policy and Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association. "We have seen incorporation of eco-friendly business practices from large chains to independent operators, as well as manufacturers and other supply chain partners. The National Restaurant Association is working to ensure operators have access to the education, tools and training needed to adopt successful and cost-effective sustainability best practices into their business models."

Clarice Turner, SVP of U.S. Business for Starbucks Coffee Co., is the NRA's Sustainability and Social Responsibility Committee chair.

"(The first report) is a landmark document and we're very proud of the work that went into it. It definitely outlines the Association's sustainability goals nicely, and from a strategic standpoint, allows us to continue to tell this complex and important story. The report is a key piece of a comprehensive effort to demonstrate the ways in which NRA is being proactive and leading as a trade association on sustainability issues," Turner said.

Also as part of its commitment to environmental sustainability, the NRA is now offering its Conserve Sustainability Education Program as a member benefit. The program provides online tools and resources to successfully implement environmental practices, as well as a roadmap to help navigate toward reducing carbon footprints.

"Understanding what goes on in the back of the house — from the appliances you cook with to your energy and water use, packaging, management process and even organics collection techniques — has a big potential positive impact on the average restaurant's budget," DeFife said.

According to the NRA's 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, consumers find sustainability efforts important when it comes to choosing a restaurant. NRA research shows that the majority of restaurant operators already have plans to increase their efforts on energy and water conservation this year; more than 6 out of 10 plan to purchase energy-saving kitchen equipment and light fixtures in 2013, and half plan to invest in water-saving equipment and/or fixtures.

More information about the report, "Shedding Light on Sustainability," is available at Restaurant.org/Conserve.

Read more about sustainability efforts.

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