Sustainability in Concessions: 7 Ways to Build a Better World

The focus on sustainability and eco-consciousness is everywhere. In our home state of Colorado, a law recently went into effect eliminating single-use plastic bags at certain businesses. In New York City, a 2022 law banned the distribution of single-use plastics in delivery orders unless specifically requested by the customer. A California “Condiment law” prohibits the distribution of condiments unless requested by the customer.

recycling and composting bins | mobile carts food kiosks sustainable concessiojns
Nationwide, we’re seeing more laws introducing sustainability initiatives directly impacting operations for food vendors, contract foodservice management companies, and venue operators. As these laws roll out, vendors and operators will need to become compliant; however, you can take steps to make sustainability part of their operations.

  • Reduce waste and plastic usage: Implementing strategies to minimize waste generation and using biodegradable or compostable packaging can significantly reduce the ecological footprint of food operations. Consider offering condiments in bulk or making them available by request only.
  • Energy-efficient operations: By opting for energy-efficient equipment and practices, like EVs, concession operators can reduce energy consumption, decrease carbon emissions, and contribute to a greener future.
  • Sustainable sourcing of ingredients: Emphasizing locally sourced and organic ingredients supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation. This is also a great marketing win with younger, health-conscious customers looking for food offerings that contribute to local economies.
  • Promote plant-based menu items: Mobile cart and concession operators can offer a wide range of healthy and ethically sourced food options, catering to the increasing demand for plant-based choices among event attendees.
  • Create a “green” event experience: Foodservice operators that focus on sustainability provide an opportunity for their venues to differentiate themselves as environmentally conscious. Consider partnering with local recyclers and composters to create a more eco-friendly event experience for all attendees.
  • Educate staff and customers on sustainable practices: Staff trained on sustainable practices can also educate customers about sustainability initiatives (e.g., recycling, composting, etc.) and encourage them to make environmentally conscious choices.

While embracing sustainability in mobile concessions is idealistic, it also comes with challenges. Implementing sustainable practices may require initial investments in equipment or changes in operations. Many municipal and state governments provide incentives and grants to businesses that adopt sustainable practices. Mobile food cart and concession operators can use these opportunities to invest in eco-friendly initiatives.

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword in the food and beverage industry; it’s rapidly becoming the new way of doing business. As laws and regulations continue to evolve to promote sustainable practices, it will become more important for foodservice operators to adopt eco-friendly options.