Sustainable menus: 9 ways to create a low carbon dish for your restaurant

Nov 30, 2017 | News

By <a href="" target="_self">George Catchpole</a>

By George Catchpole

Marketing Manager

What constitutes a sustainable menu? This question was posed at a recent live summit organised by plate2planet, the one-stop-shop digital platform for practical information about sustainability in the food sector.


Proper Oils, the used cooking oil collection service that is working towards accreditation by The Planet Mark™ sustainability certification programme, attended plate2planet Live. Here it shares what it learnt on creating a sustainable menu:

1. Inspire your staff to follow your lead

Make sure your staff are engaged in the same mission as you. Having a higher purpose for your staff makes them feel more engaged and inspired. Wendy Duncan from Unilever suggests making one member of staff the champion for your more sustainable menu.

2. Serve less meat

Serve smaller portions of meat and make vegetables the star of the show. The meat can act like the side dish on the plate.

3. Choose high-welfare meat where possible

If serving meat, make it sustainable by choosing your cuts of meat from animals raised to high welfare standards.

4. Change your menu one dish at a time

Small changes make all the difference. Look at one dish at a time and consider what you can do to make it more sustainable. Make sure the dish is balanced nutritionally, then review the ingredients to check you are obtaining the best available. For example, are the ingredients seasonal or local? Could you consider animal welfare in this dish?

5. Work out where your food waste goes

According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), a third of food produced for human consumption in the world is thrown away – amounting to around 1.3 billion tonnes or more than £10,000 per outlet per year. In order to take steps to reduce your food waste, you must first work out where its coming from. You can do this by having different food waste bins in your kitchen – one for food preparation waste and one for waste scraped from customer plates.

6. Manage your energy use

Consider ways to reduce the energy used to produce your dishes. One way to do this is to choose seasonal ingredients that can be sourced within the UK, rather than ingredients that will carry air miles. Switching your lights to LEDs can also help.

7. Showcase your sustainable menu to your customer

When you’ve made the changes to your menu, tell your customers about it. Test it on your customers and make sure your waiting staff can talk about it knowledgeably. Customers will be interested to know that you’re working more sustainably – and it will help you sell your dishes.

8. Send surplus food to charity

Rather than chucking out perfectly edible food, try redistributing your surplus stock that is still fresh, in date and good to a charity that works to redestribute surplus food to fight food poverty. One such charity is FareShare.

9. Make sure your waste cooking oil is being collected responsibly

Finally, make sure that your waste cooking oil is being collected by a licensed used cooking oil collector – like Proper Oils – which ensures it’s recycled into biodiesel. You’ll also need a working grease trap in place. As well as helping to reduce greenhouse gases, you’ll be protecting your drains and local sewer systems from fatbergs.

To find out more about Proper Oils’ used cooking oil collection services or to book a collection, please call us on 020 3613 5189, email us on