6 Ways to Make Your Food Truck More Sustainable

Recognizing that sustainability is a “major point of interest” for many patrons, food-truck vendors are driving an effort to be more eco-friendly. So says Christopher Moyer, who runs the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Initiative, and other industry experts.

Here are six ways to make your food truck more sustainable:

1. Use locally sourced ingredients. Looking for a plum parking spot? Operators who use sustainable sourcing may receive preferential treatment. In January 2012, MIT invited alumnus Ayr Muir to park his sustainable food truck on campus. The Clover Food Lab joined just three other food trucks serving students and faculty. Richard Berlin, who was director of campus dining services at the time, says he chose to add Clover because of its sustainable food service. “Each truck concept is selected to add diversity among our truck offerings,” he says.

2. Offer wood-fired cookery on wheels. Wood-fired ovens have been used in various types of restaurants for years. Fox Pizza Bus recently gave a new meaning to the term “hot wheels,” when the Los Angeles-based company brought wood coals aboard its supersized food truck in 2012. In many areas in the U.S., wood, a renewable source of fuel, is in plentiful supply.

3. Source sustainable meat. Fast-food visionaries Sue Moore and Larry Bain launched a food cart and a food truck that hawk hot dogs with ingredients sourced from free-range farmers. Let’s Be Frank only uses organic ingredients in its grass-fed turkey and beef wieners.

4. Power a food truck with recycled cooking oil. Snap, a food-truck company in New York City, recycles the organic peanut oil it uses to cook french fries. The oil is turned into biodiesel to fuel the truck. Owners Liz and Zeph Courtney also source organic, grass-fed beef from regionally raised livestock.

5. Offer incentives to recycle. The Guactruck offers patrons “cozy-modern-organic mobile architecture.” Customers go inside the 78-square-foot delivery truck and serve themselves, cafeteria-style. Yet, what sets this food truck apart is the company’s recycling incentive program. Customers who return 10 recyclable containers to the food truck receive a free meal. This ensures its serving ware gets recycled.

6. Use solar energy to power trucks and kitchens. Green Truck, a Los-Angeles-based food-truck company, uses solar energy to operate the kitchens in its two double-decker trucks — and then sells the excess electricity it produces back to the utility company. The company also uses only certified organic ingredients.

About Jan Fletcher

Jan Fletcher, President of Dreamcatch Creative, reports on restaurant operations, the signage industry, and composite manufacturing. She also writes about technology in business and education, and is passionate about microenterprise.
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