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Sustainability Takes Community

August 19, 2022

The modern era of foodservice is synonymous with sustainability.

Foodservice and hospitality teams have been inspired to reinvest into their supply-chain and source solutions that help reduce their dependency on single-use plastics.    

From mom & pop stores to national restaurant chains, purchasing teams are establishing strategic sourcing initiatives to improve upon their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) ratings.

“Corporate responsibility has become a heightened focus for all the right reasons,” says Liliana Esposito, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at Wendy’s. “Consumers and investors care about it, and taking corporate responsibility is the right thing to do in terms of making sure we are improving the impact; but what has also become apparent is that the companies that focus on these areas and put meaningful effort and resources behind them perform better.”

As businesses navigate the sustainable products market, it is key that suppliers are transparent when it comes to products’ environmental claims.

Greenwashing has stunted the adoption of many ‘eco’ alternatives as purchasers are overwhelmed by the requirements needed for disposal. When it comes to materials that are industrially compostable such as PLA or PHA, operators not only incur the increase in unit cost, but the fees to collect, clean, sort, and send this waste to facilities that may not exist locally.

 While Esposito says “[we] are actively reaching out to our suppliers to share with them what our footprint looks like and the role that they play in that footprint,” being open to innovation will build the foundation for scalable solutions through new strategic partnerships.

 Why would a foodservice business make this investment in the first place?  

 More than 50% of people would choose restaurants with ‘eco-friendly’ packaging vs an establishment with single-use plastics.

 More than 75% of Gen Z consumers said that sustainability was more important to them than the brand name when making purchase decisions

 Investing in sustainability drives positive ROI when properly executed, improving community engagement, brand equity, and customer experience through incremental changes. If not properly executed, this can lead to supply-chain disruptions, legislative compliance issues, and a negative association with the brand’s guest experience.

 The StrawFish® team is here to equip sourcing teams will all the tools needed to navigate greenwashing, streamline sourcing, and drive positive value from investments in sustainability.