sustainability

2019 RC Show - Focus on SustainABILITY

With a “SustainABILITY” theme, the 2019 RC Show had a high bar to achieve. It did not disappoint. While all aspects of the term “sustainability” were explored, there was a heavy focus on environmental sustainability. For 3 days, thousands of restaurant owners, Chefs, and industry leaders were treated to educational, entertaining and inspiring events. And of course, delicious eats.

The Eco Pavilion, co-presented by LEAF, hosted eco-workshops that taught attendees how to reduce waste, save energy and money, and how to achieve the first steps to LEAF certification. IESO held the second Save on Energy Forum which focused on ways to reduce energy use and save money. Eye-opening panel discussions with CEOs and sustainability leaders provided unique insights into challenges and successes, and the future of sustainability in foodservice.

We capped off the Show by handing out the 2nd Annual LEAF Awards. It was a fantastic show. See you at the next RC Show, March 1-3, 2020!

LEAF: A look back at where we started, and where we are now.

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The Dishwasher was rhythmically humming while the sink behind it filled up two industrial basins of water to thaw some chicken. Hood fans worked constantly over pre-heated fryers and flat tops that were cranked and working at full capacity. House lights were all on.

No one was in the restaurant though.

In the evenings, I’d melt ice in the bar sink by running hot water, and then scoop handful after handful of plastic straws and throw them in the garbage. It was a moment of awakening that I realized that the foodservice industry is incredibly wasteful. Foodservice has one of the largest carbon footprints of commercial operations, yet it is a driver of our economy and a past time for many. There had to be a way to improve the way we do things. I looked into what sustainability resources were available for foodservice establishments and found very little. The seed was planted, and after two years of research and development, a nationwide non-for-profit was launched that focused on reducing the environmental impact of the industry and certified restaurants that are operating more sustainably.

It was the community of like minded people around me who made the first steps possible. The emerging green movement in Calgary welcomed and supported my idea. Our pilot restaurant was River Cafe, a high-profile restaurant in Calgary whose owner shared our philosophy and passion for sustainability, while keeping us mindful of important considerations in a successful business. This like-mindedness was then discovered across Canada.

LEAF started with one restaurant in Calgary and has grown to what it is today, nearly 100 LEAF certified facilities across Canada, from independent restaurants to small cafes and campuses. We want to make a big impact on the world around us in terms of environmental efficiency and waste reduction, and help reverse the current environmental direction we’re headed. This is the passion that drives us daily. Wo do this in two ways: we educate restaurants about the benefits of sustainability, both environmental and financial, and provide guidance to improve their operations. And it goes far beyond local food. We look at everything from the menu, to the chemicals they use to clean, energy practices, water use, social policies and more. But we also engage in the consumer world where we help consumers find our LEAF certified restaurants so they can show their support and feel good about where they choose to eat.

We now have third-party auditors and LEAF certified restaurants in most major cities in Canada. The auditor’s role is to work within their communities to reduce the environmental impact of local restaurants, and improve their environmental and economic sustainability, which ultimately benefits the local community. A lot goes into a restaurant getting a LEAF sticker on their door. The places that have it are passionate about sustainability, their communities and people.

As a non-profit, we work hard at creating more awareness for LEAF and what it means, why it exists. We know people tend to feel better by eating somewhere they know is more sustainable. These people who feel that it is important tend to spread the word and it’s this organic growth that propels us forward. We use social networks to increase awareness of the restaurants that are doing good things, and then that relationship is continued face to face and off the network, when our audience visits a LEAF restaurant for a truly great experience.

How can you help? Reduce your own impact by refusing disposable plastics when you go out to eat, look for LEAF certified restaurants and encourage your local restaurants to get LEAF certified. If you work in the foodservice industry and want to improve the sustainability of your restaurant, get in touch!

Can a food truck really be green?

Can a food truck really be green?

It may come as a surprise, but food trucks are inherently less wasteful than traditional restaurants in many ways. Once they arrive at their destination, they use only a fraction of the utilities that larger brick and mortar restaurants use. Food trucks must also contend with unique challenges, such as limited space for food and supplies (including water) forcing them to conserve as much as they can and making them highly aware of waste. When it comes to overall emissions, there doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer as to which setup comes out ahead.



LEAF releases annual Guide to Canada's Greenest Restaurants

LEAF has released our annual Guide to Canada’s Greenest Restaurants for 2018. For the past number of years, sustainable dining and various aspects of it , including local food, sustainable seafood, meatless menus, and environmental practices, have been listed as some of the top trends in restaurants and food service. Increasingly, restaurants are realizing that operating as a more sustainable business is also good for their bottom line.

Restaurants waste an average of 50 tons of food each year, and use 2.5 to 5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. 96 per cent of LEAF restaurants compost their food waste versus just 9 per cent of conventional restaurants. 85 per cent of LEAF restaurants use energy efficient or ENERGY STAR appliances versus just 52 per cent of conventional restaurants. LEAF restaurants consistently outperform conventional restaurants.

Consumers are increasingly more aware of the impact of their purchasing decisions, and gravitate towards more environmentally sound purchasing choices when presented with options. Dining at a LEAF certified restaurant takes the guesswork out of the equation for consumers.  The restaurants on this list have all been audited by an independent third party, and demonstrate a commitment to operating in an environmentally sustainable manner. Canadian diners can find an updated list of LEAF certified restaurants in their area, year round, on the LEAF website.

We are continually raising the bar for what it means to be LEAF certified. In the coming weeks, LEAF’s version 4.0 criteria will be released, which places a greater emphasis on single use disposable plastics and food waste.

Support a more sustainable foodservice industry - visit a LEAF certified restaurant in your area today!

Don’t see one on the list in your area? Send them this link and suggest they get certified!

Follow LEAF on Twitter @LEAF_Canada, on Instagram @LEAF_Canada, and on Facebook L.E.A.F

RC Show 2018: sustainability up front

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Over 20,000 chefs, restaurateurs and industry professionals attended the RC Show in Toronto on Feb 25-27th, 2018. LEAF was a co--presenter of the Eco Pavilion, which featured businesses and organizations to help attendees address waste, find rebates, learn about the ENERGY STAR program and more.

Day one featured a great discussion on the Business Case for Sustainability. Bruce McAdams of the University of Guelph's Sustainable Restaurant Program (UGSRP) started off the talk by highlighting the economic benefits of incorporating sustainability into operations and stats to provide context.  A panel discussion with five LEAF certified restaurateurs followed, each discussing their challenges and successes in their sustainability journey, and providing valuable insight and advice. 

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The talk wrapped with each chef offering their recommendation for the best sustainable change they made - either economically or greatest impact with least investment:

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  • Chef Cam McGowan from CRAFT Beer Market suggested starting with a waste audit of garbage, compost and recycling - laying everything "out on a tarp" to seeing what you're actually throwing away.
     
  • Ian Vickers, COO of Diversity Food Services, recommended placing compost containers by each service station and taking the garbage out of the way. Ian suggested placing the garbage at the back of the house created a "walk of shame" to throw something out, ensuring anything that could be composted or recycled, was.
     
  • Evelyn Gharibian from Hearty Catering, favoured monitoring water use and implementing conservation systems as means to reduce water use and cost.
     
  • Elio Zannoni of Gusto Commissary and Catering highlighted the ease and impact of eliminating plastic straws and stir sticks.
     
  • Brad Long of Cafe Belong recommended working towards being a Certified B Corp, and stressed the importance of measurement.
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Kim of  Montgomery's  Restaurant

Kim of Montgomery's Restaurant

Throughout the show we collected pledges in our Pledge to Win contest - encouraging foodservice operators to make a sustainability pledge. We captured pledges for everything from  purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances and installing low flow fixtures, to eliminating plastic straws! 

The final day of the show featured the SaveONEnergy Forum presented by IESO where the focus was on SAVING. We heard first hand accounts of how big and small energy efficiency strategies had lead to major operational cost savings. 

Chic Alors! saves $700 per month with LED lighting and realized a payback within 7 months of the initial investment

Sheridan College campus was able to reduce the temperature by two degrees in the winter by installing ENERGY STAR window film, resulting in substantial cost savings

Kim of Montgomery's restaurant kept costs in check by choosing ENERGY STAR appliances, unplugging equipment when not needed, filling in cracks in the walls and around windows and doors, installing thick curtains and rugs as insulation, and more

At the end of the SaveONEnergy Forum, ENERGY STAR Canada, in partnership with Restaurants Canada, IESO, LEAF and Newspring Energy, launched their Foodservice Energy Challenge, which will give participating restaurant and foodservice facilities the opportunity for deep discounts on ENERGY STAR equipment and a chance to win prizing. 

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The show was capped off with the first LEAF Awards, presented to four incredibly deserving companies. Diversity Foodservices, Chic Alors!, Community Cafe and Creelman Market all took home awards. Learn more about the winners here.

Thanks to Restaurants Canada for putting on an amazing show and highlighting sustainability! We look forward to the RC Show 2019 where the theme will be Sustainability! 

Creelman Market : winner of Eco-Innovator 2018

Creelman Market: winner of Eco-Innovator 2018

Diversity Foodservices : winner of Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet

Diversity Foodservices: winner of Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet

Community Cafe : winner of Most Improved 2018

Community Cafe: winner of Most Improved 2018

Chic Alors! : winner Greenest Restaurant 2018

Chic Alors!: winner Greenest Restaurant 2018

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LEAF Approved Supplier  Rethink Resource

LEAF Approved Supplier Rethink Resource

LEAF at the RC Show 2018!

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We’re gearing up for the RC Show in Toronto February 25-27th - just a few short weeks away! As title sponsors of the Show’s Eco Pavilion, LEAF is very excited to present the “Pledge to Win” contest. 

The "Pledge to Win" contest will encourage foodservice operators at the show to make a “green” pledge (big or small) such as “go straw-less”, “switch to renewable energy” or “get LEAF certified” for the chance to win an “Eco” prize package to start their sustainability journey. 

In order to be entered to win, pledgees must share their pledge on social media with the hashtag #RCShow2018 and tag @LEAFCanada and @RestaurantsCanada. The Pledge to Win contest will encourage a large number of restaurateurs to implement new sustainability initiatives and set concrete goals. It will also bring awareness to the environmental impact of the industry and highlight how easy first steps can be.

The winner will receive an Eco prize package valued at over $1000.

A big Thank you to our “Pledge to Win” sponsors:

Restaurants Canada

Newspring Energy

Rethink Resource

Alberta Apparel

Bio-Origins

Intellinox Technologies

 

Other Must-see sustainability events at the show include:

Business Case for Sustainability
Panel Discussion
Sunday, Feb 25, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Join us on the main stage for an enlightening panel discussion with Bruce McAdams, foodservice and sustainability expert, as he presents the business case for sustainability and how it can positively impact your business. 

Bruce will be joined by LEAF Certified facilities to share their journeys, successes and challenges around "going green" and being part of the LEAF program.

KEYNOTE & MODERATOR:
Bruce McAdams, Professor, University of Guelph

SPEAKERS:

Brad Long, Chef & Owner, Café Belong & Belong Catering - Evergreen Brick Works 

Elio Zannoni, Executive Chef, Gusto 54 

Evelyne Gharibian, Founder, Hearty Catering Inc. 

Ian Vickers, COO, Diversity Food Services 

Cam McGowan, Executive Chef, CRAFT Beer Market

Save on Energy Foodservice Forum
Tues, Feb. 27, 7:45am-1:00pm

Save energy, manage your utility costs and help your business. Hear about the latest in energy efficiency programs and about available training and support. Learn from industry leaders and experts about the most innovative products, technologies, and ideas to manage your costs and increase your bottom line. Knowledge is power, don't stay in the dark.

LEAF Awards

The first annual LEAF Awards will be handed out on the main stage, recognizing leaders in the sustainable foodservice industry. Categories include:

Greenest Restaurant
Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet
Most Improved
Eco-Innovator

Don't miss this incredible show!

LEAF becomes ENERGY STAR™ Participant

LEAF is proud to announce that we are an ENERGY STAR participant. For years, our program has emphatically promoted the ENERGY STARY program for its important work in reducing the energy consumption of the foodservice industry. Energy use is one of the largest contributors to the environmental footprint of the foodservice facilities. With the ENERGY STAR program, foodservice operators can choose equipment that not only uses less energy, but saves them money in the long run. 

LEAF heavily encourages our members to replace their equipment with ENERGY STAR equipment when their current pieces near the end of their life, or when retrofitting their kitchens. In fact, the energy section of the LEAF criteria is one of the most heavily weighted, and using ENERGY STAR equipment significantly helps our restaurants reach the amount of points required for certification. In addition, to be Level 3 LEAF Certified (our highest level), at least 60% of a restaurant’s equipment must be ENERGY STAR certified.

We are happy to be working to promote such an important program. Stayed tuned for more information on the ENERGY STAR program, tools and tips to help you reduce your energy use further.

To learn more about the ENERGY STAR program, click here.

 

 

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LEAF welcomes new Director of Eastern Canada

LEAF is pleased to welcome Sarah Letto as LEAF's new Director of Eastern Canada. Sarah will be focused on the growth and strategic development of LEAF for the Eastern provinces.

Sarah is an environmental sustainability professional who is passionate about helping organizations reduce their environmental impact. Her professional background includes senior management positions in carbon quantification and sustainability consulting. She has developed and implemented environmental sustainability programs for a variety of economic sectors including the global transportation and hospitality industries, working with organizations such as Marriott International and Virgin Hotels.

Sarah is a certified Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quantifier (GHG-IQ), holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from York University, and recently completed her Environmental Professional (EP) designation from ECO Canada. She is incredibly excited to join the team at LEAF and continue her journey to help organizations reduce their environmental impact in the foodservice industry!  

We are thrilled to have Sarah with us - Welcome, Sarah!

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LEAF Announces first annual LEAF Awards!

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Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF) is pleased to announce the first annual LEAF Awards, to be presented at the 2018 Restaurants Canada Show February 25-27th in Toronto. Winners will receive a beautiful, hand-crafted award to display and be promoted through social media. 

This is an exciting opportunity for Canadian restaurateurs to be recognized for their commitment to the environment, the progress they've made, and the hard work they put into making their businesses as sustainable as possible. 


There are 4 categories to enter:

Greenest Restaurant
Greenest Facility over 10,000 square feet
Most Improved
Eco-Innovator of the Year

While the first three categories are only open to LEAF certified restaurants, the Eco-Innovator award is open to any restaurant. In partnership with Restaurants Canada, the Eco-Innovator award will recognize one restaurateur's achievement in implementing a new technology or innovative solution to a problem, which results in a significant reduction in the environmental impact of the establishment or facility. 

How to enter:

Deadline for submission for all awards is 11:59pm EST on Thursday, November 30th, 2017. 

Good luck to all applicants!