Green Catering Tips: How to Make Your Catering Business Environmentally Friendly

Going green may have started as a trend, but it’s quickly becoming a way of life for conscientious consumers and business owners alike. By making your catering business more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, you can both appeal to a wider customer base and help reduce your business’s negative environmental impacts. Below are a few ways you can go green with your catering operations.

Shop All Eco-Friendly Disposables

Serve Environmentally Friendly Foods

Since food is the most important part of your catering business, it’s the perfect place to start when trying to implement a few eco-positive changes.

Offer More Vegetarian or Vegan Dishes


While this may surprise some, vegetable farming is a more sustainable practice than animal farming. Producing meat such as beef, pork, or poultry involves more land and water use than produce. Additionally, raising animals such as cows naturally produces a large number of greenhouse gases that get released into the atmosphere.

While you may still choose to offer a few meat options, consider cutting down your menu and implementing more plant-based proteins including lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, quinoa, and nuts.

Incorporate a Seasonal Menu

Not only does cooking seasonally allow you to use the freshest, tastiest produce available, but it also cuts down on your business’s negative environmental impact. Incorporating seasonal produce into your menu reduces the amount of resources needed to transport food from the farm to your serving tray. With a shorter distance to travel, your food is creating less gas emissions and logging less food miles in gas-guzzling vehicles.

Reduce Food Waste

Reducing food waste is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Here are a few ways to reduce food waste in your catering business:

  • Track inventory over time and adjust order amounts with a food waste audit
  • Get creative and repurpose ingredients to make new dishes
  • Donate leftovers from your event
  • Take advantage of overripe fruits and vegetables by making sauces, stocks, breads, and desserts
  • Create a compost pile for food that’s past the point of serving

Use Sustainable Servingware

Disposables can become a large source of pollution in nearby oceans, lakes, and landfills. While they’re an important part of any catering business, consider making the following changes to your servingware.

Switch to Reusable Tableware

Swapping out disposable tablecloths, napkins, and flatware for reusable tableware is both environmentally friendly and an ideal option for upscale catered events. Cloth tablecloths and napkins are perfect for use at formal weddings, banquets, cocktail hours, and luncheons. If you have the space to wash dishes and linens, steering clear of disposables is your most sustainable option.

Create a Beverage Station

trendy beverage station with clear bowl of fruit

Instead of offering guests individual cans of soda or bottles of water, try setting up a beverage station instead. Take advantage of reusable beverage dispensers to limit your use of disposable plastics. This more sustainable option can even allow you more creativity in what you serve. For example, you can infuse beverages like tea or lemonade with fresh fruits and herbs.

Separate Recyclable Materials

Recycling is a great way for foodservice establishments of all types, including catering companies, to be more environmentally friendly. However, recycling at catering venues can require a few simple additional steps:

  • Train staff about proper waste management practices
  • Ensure staff understands what can be set aside to be recycled
  • If guests are clearing their own place settings, offer a separate receptacle for recyclables
  • Clearly mark your recycling containers and all-purpose trash cans

Look for Energy Efficient Equipment and Supplies

Along with food and disposables, the equipment you prepare and deliver food with can have an impact on your catering company’s overall sustainability efforts.

Consider Using Energy Star Qualified Equipment

Energy Star qualified equipment is built to use much less energy than their non-compliant counterparts. Since this energy-efficient equipment ranges anywhere from refrigerators and freezers to fryers and stovetops, you can equip your entire catering kitchen in low-energy, high-efficiency equipment.

Clean with Greener Cleaning Products

Once service is over, consider keeping your green streak going by using more environmentally friendly cleaning products. Normal products may contain bleach or other chemicals that are harsh on the environment, especially if you’re catering an outdoor event. Many green cleaning supplies offer the same cleaning power but with less effects on the surrounding area.

Keep Your Vehicle Serviced Regularly

electric car being charged

More than a typical brick-and-mortar establishment, catering companies use vehicles regularly to transport food, equipment, and staff to and from event locations. While it may not always be a top priority, regularly maintaining these vehicles can stop older cars or trucks from emitting excess pollution. And if you’re in the market to upgrade your ride, consider all-electric vehicles or hybrids.

There are lots of small changes you can make to an existing catering business to be more eco-friendly. If you’re starting a new business with the Earth in mind, feel free to implement as many of these changes as possible when writing your business plan. Whether your business has been around for years or is brand new, don’t forget to advertise the ways you’re contributing to a greener planet. Many like-minded customers will appreciate your efforts and be more likely to choose your business over one that isn't environmentally friendly.

Posted in: Catering Tips|Eco-Friendly Tips|By Rachel Jenkins
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