Green Seal, an independent nonprofit providing sustainability certification for products and services, launched a sustainability standard for restaurants and foodservices in conjunction with The Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition and The Rosenthal Group.
The standard, GS-55, covers nationwide retail restaurants and institutional foodservice operations through rigorous criteria that minimize environmental impact in several categories. These include food sourcing through use of foods produced in a sustainable manner; waste management, including food waste, compostable waste, recycling, and water quality management; energy use; water consumption; and the use of other environmentally-preferable products and services.
GS-55 is the result of a pilot program conducted in partnership with The Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition (GCRC), an organization dedicated to protecting the environment and conserving natural resources by helping the Chicago foodservice industry reduce its collective environmental footprint. The pilot was conducted with eight Chicago restaurants using criteria developed on the basis of a study by the Green Restaurant Research Team at the University of Chicago in cooperation with GCRC.
In the pilot program, one participating restaurant achieved 96 percent diversion of its waste, while another was able to limit waste to just a few gallons per year. These gains came about through compliance with the standard’s criteria for composting, food donation, recycling of solid waste, and grease and limiting disposable packaging.
The Chicago restaurants and foodservices, including two in McCormick Place, that have achieved certification so far include:
- Autre Monde Café & Spirits
- FIG Catering
- Food For Though
- Sandwich Me In
- La Brea Bakery Café
- West Hall Food Court at McCormick Place
- The Sopraffina Marketcaffé
An additional 12 Chicago area restaurants are in the process of being evaluated for certification. Green Seal verifies, monitors, and holds each restaurant accountable for meeting requirements. It also conducts a complete review of purchasing records, processes and communications, as well as on-site audits.
“According to the EPA, more than 36 million tons of food waste were generated in 2011, 96 percent of which was thrown away into landfills,” says Arthur B. Weissman, Ph.D., president and CEO of Green Seal. “With our new standard, nearly 100 percent of waste can be diverted from the landfill. With nearly 1 million restaurants in the U.S., adoption of our standard would have a significant impact on the environment.”
“It is always encouraging when pointed research yields such tangible results. The launch of GS-55 answers the call of a defined market need for options in independent foodservice sustainability certification,” says Eloise Karlatiras, president and CEO, Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition. “This standard provides food service businesses nationwide with a comprehensive, third party option to measure, track, verify, and improve upon operational sustainability. As these efforts serve to reduce the foodservice industry’s environmental impact, we are delighted to have been a part of such important work.”
"Environmentally friendly practices and good business practices should go hand in hand,” says Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for the City of Chicago. “These actions will help establish Chicago’s long-term livability as we secure a more sustainable future. We congratulate Green Seal, the team, and local participating restaurants on launching a national standard based on pilot work done in Chicago."
“We’ve been involved in the creation of this standard from the outset and are thrilled that it will now be available on a national scale,” says Dan Rosenthal, president of the Rosenthal Group. “There is no other sustainability standard for restaurants out there that can rival GS-55 for its thoroughness or scientific basis. It is truly the gold standard for any restaurant that wants to validate its sustainability efforts.”
The Rosenthal Group’s Sopraffina and CICCHETTI restaurants participated in the Green Seal pilot and are among the eight local restaurants to receive the initial certification.