Food and Beverage

5 Sustainability Trends Spark Energy at NRA Show

Spotted on the NRA Show floor: Everything from eco-safe seafood to a ventless, energy-saving dishwasher. Everyone seems interested in sustainability.

National Restaurant Association

What does a ventless dishwashing system have in common with barramundi, a countertop steamer, disposable dinnerware and refrigeration systems? They’re all eco-friendly innovations found at NRA Show 2016. Here are five trends we spotted this year:

Sustainable seafood

Environmentally conscious restaurateurs are serving more sustainable seafood to protect the seafood supply. Australis won a 2016 NRA Show FABI award for its barramundi, a relatively new, sustainable alternative to snapper, grouper and sea bass. Farmed using best-in-class sustainability practices, the fish is rated a best choice by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch. Australis CEO Josh Goldman says his “goal is for barramundi to become the global white fish and allow the world to meet its need for fish without depleting the oceans.”

Energy-efficient refrigeration

Turbo Coil’s R290 Propane Glycol Chef Base refrigeration system consumes less energy and saves money on utility costs. CEO Hector Delgadillo designed the system to run on a combination of propane and glycol gases. It uses digital thermostat technology to turn on and shut off automatically. Delgadillo says it’s designed to run just 31 percent of the time in a 24-hour period, compared to 65 percent to 70 percent for traditional systems. He estimates it costs about $300 a year to operate, compared with $900 for traditional units. Utility companies such as Southern California Edison will start offering $800 rebates on this 2016 NRA Kitchen Innovations Award winner this fall.

Ventless dishwashers

Champion Industries’ new ventless system collects 100 percent of its exhaust energy and vapor. The vapor is fully absorbed and the exhaust energy is repurposed to heat the wash and final rinse water. Product development director Allen Hasken says the machine uses cold tap water that is heated to 120 degrees through an energy recovery coil. The 2016 NRA Kitchen Innovations Award winner saves 6 kilowatts of energy per hour during wash tank mode and 8 kilowatts per hour during rinse mode. A fan on top of the unit regulates the air emitted into the room to between 65 and 70 degrees, compared with normal dishroom temperatures of about 140 degrees. Hasken projects utilities cost savings between $6,000 and $7,000 over a 1-year period.

Water-saving countertop steamer

As operators seek ways to decrease their water consumption, a new countertop steamer from Vulcan reduces water usage by up to 90 percent when compared with traditional versions. Why? It limits the amount of excess steam that gets generated, plus it doesn’t require as much water to make steam. Traditional steamers require around 55 gallons of water per hour, but this one uses just 4.7 gallons of water per hour. Company spokesman Larry Lyons says the 2016 NRA Kitchen Innovations Award winner qualifies for Energy Star rebates of up to $750 per pan [this is a 5-pan steamer] and saves between $1,800 and $2,000 a year in utility costs.

Eco-friendly dinnerware and packaging

Environmentally safe cups, plates and packaging are gaining in popularity. EcoProducts offers two product lines: a Green Stripe category that is completely compostable and made from Bagasse, a byproduct of sugar cane, and a Blue Stripe version made from polylactic recycled plastic. Spokesman Seth Adams says both perform as well as traditional types do. The compostable line takes approximately 120 to 180 days to break down and compost, he says.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.