DEP Restaurant Industry Workshop Promotes Sustainable Business Practices

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TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is co-hosting a free workshop on incentives and green best practices to help the restaurant industry become more sustainable. The workshop will be held 8:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 17 at Princeton University Frist Campus Center, Multipurpose Room Level B, Frist Lane. Space is limited.

The DEP is partnering with the Rutgers EcoComplex, Sustainable Princeton and Princeton University’s Office of Sustainability to host “Restaurants For Tomorrow.” The workshop will introduce restaurants, diners and related food-service business owners and managers to initiatives they can take to “go green,” including how to comply with a new law to reduce food waste.

“Restaurants are a billion dollar industry in New Jersey that also serve as the heart of their communities,” Assistant Commissioner for Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability Paul Baldauf said. “This workshop will provide owners and operators tools they can use to cut costs while being socially and environmentally responsible. At the same time, they will be giving customers ideas they can take home with them.”

New Jersey in 2017 passed a law establishing a food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030. The law requires the DEP, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, to develop a plan with public input to accomplish this goal.

The DEP is working with various stakeholders – food and grocery industries, businesses, food banks, schools and universities, environmental groups and others –  to develop a draft plan to promote strategies to reduce food waste at the source of loss and to educate consumers about ways they can reduce food waste. Once a draft plan is developed, the DEP will hold a series of public meetings to gather further public input and finalize the plan.

The environmental and societal benefits associated with food waste reduction are significant. Landfill disposal capacity is saved through effective waste reduction programs, energy is saved by only producing the amount of food that is eaten, and air pollution is reduced because waste does not have to be transported to disposal sites. When food waste is buried in landfills, it decomposes and generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The half-day workshop will feature keynote speaker Jon McConaughy, owner and general manager of Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell, Mercer County.

Participants will interact with experts from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program and the Rutgers EcoComplex, as well as the DEP’s divisions of Solid and Hazardous Waste and Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability. They will also tour Princeton University’s new in-vessel digester for food scraps.

“Food is obviously important to all of us, as essential nutrition, as a social binder, as a teacher and connection with our local region and the world,” Princeton University Office of Sustainability Director Shana Weber said. “The impact we can all have through how we interact with food and food systems is profound. We can improve soil vitality, water quality, supply chains, living wages, human health, wildlife habitat and much more. This workshop has the potential to accelerate the very positive impacts we can have collectively. We’re excited to be a part of it.”

A number of restaurants and food purveyors practice sustainability by using locally sourced ingredients, conserving energy, avoid single-use plastics and reducing waste, all of which benefit public health.

To register for the workshop, visit https://restaurants-for-tomorrow.eventbrite.com