In the wake of COP26 and a recent announcement by Dubai Municipality about an upcoming sustainable star rating programme, restaurants in Dubai and elsewhere, will need to be safe, clean and green if they want to survive in the competitive food and beverage market.
According to Kelvin Vargheese Senior Director TFM at Dubai-based maintenance specialist Hitches & Glitches (H&G), “Although it is of paramount importance, restauranteurs know it’s no longer just about health and hygiene, customers are increasingly concerned about waste.
“Prior to the pandemic, many restaurants began banning single-use plastic straws, stirrers and toothpicks. What we are witnessing now is merely a natural progression, from an increasing number of environmentally savvy consumers,” he said.
To achieve a star rating from Dubai Municipality’s initiative, which covers food safety, health and safety, environmental management, quality, taste and appeal, nutrition, diversity, as well as a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, food waste will naturally come under the microscope, creating further demand for specialist FM companies.
Kitchen waste is also a valuable asset and it can even generate increased profit if it is managed well. To this end, Hitches & Glitches offers a monitoring software called Optimizer, which measures and benchmarks waste performance with other, similar outlets.  All waste categories are regrouped with a potential disposal method, helping restaurants to structure their waste monitoring process.
A significant amount of kitchen waste can be reduced, reused and even recycled. Water used to wash vegetables or boil pasta, can be reused in flower beds or indoor plants. Restaurants can donate or sell their used cooking oil and other fats, which once collected by a professional recycler can be refined into biodiesel.
Another example is food waste which can be composted onsite, certainly by larger outlets and hotels. Composting machines can process all types of organic waste like curry, roti, rice, bread, eggshells, chicken, mutton, fish, fish bones, chicken bones, fruit, vegetables, peelings and other waste.
Using special microorganisms to break down and decompose the organic waste, the process only takes between 24-36 hours and it reduces the original volume by 80-90%, resulting in nutrient-rich fertilizer.
“The decomposition process of food waste emits methane gas which is reportedly 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2). So, composting food waste is an efficient way of reducing carbon emissions as well as cutting down on disposal costs,” commented Nadia Ibrahim, Head of Sustainability at Farnek the parent company of Hitches & Glitches.
Looking at the broader picture, in restaurant hygiene, health and safety alone, there are more than 30 different types of specialised services include air duct cleaning, indoor air quality testing, kitchen exhaust cleaning, water tank cleaning and pipeline disinfection. In addition, other services include, cleaning garbage chutes, laundry ducts, grease traps, drain lines and mist filters as well as HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) duct smoke testing and pest control.
Restaurant operations are labour intensive and highly trained, suitably qualified technicians that are conversant with the relevant local authority certifications and international quality, health, safety and environmental standards are an essential component.
“Considering the skill sets required, a sophisticated, coordinated and dedicated FM proposition is needed to address all of these touch points. And quite apart from the recognition, local restaurants will be demonstrating their firm commitment to sustainability and encouraging diners to support the UAE’s ambition to become net zero by 2050,” said Vargheese.