VOX POP: Where’s the industry heading when it comes to green kitchens?

The concept and fruition of ‘green kitchens’ is poised to grow at an ever-increasing rate as awareness of sustainability and its importance plays a far greater role within the foodservice environment. We got in touch with a number of the leading suppliers to pose the following question: When you think of the term ‘green kitchens’, where do you think the industry might be heading in future?’ Here’s what they had to say:

Steve Hemsil, Sales Director, UK & Ireland, Welbilt: Since joining the industry 19 years ago, there has been a huge transition from the traditional six burner range which was the most common piece of equipment, to newer, more efficient and effective induction, accelerated cooking and combi steamer technologies that now dominate most commercial kitchens. In conjunction with new technologies, Welbilt also has a specific department looking at a ‘FitKitchens’ concept as well as a dedicated website at www.welbiltgreen.com, which highlights every initiative, award and news with regards to sustainability at Welbilt. The industry can, and certainly well, become greener and manufacturers can continue to influence this and lead accordingly.

Paul Anderson, Managing Director, Meiko: Equipment, particularly warewashing, will increasingly generate its own energy supply. This will be achieved through the more advanced application and design of heat recovery systems — seen in the latest Meiko hood type machines — where not one, but three types of heat recovery are utilised: wastewater heat recovery; exhaust heat recovery and retention of steam inside the hood. The industry can also look forward to a future where it is reclaiming the energy from food waste, rather than pumping the waste down the drains in either macerated form or as grey water.

Paul Crowley, Marketing Development Manager, Winterhalter: Until the Energy Labelling Directive has become more established itself, it’s difficult to think about a truly green kitchen. Manufacturers will undoubtedly continue to develop products or add new features that will reduce energy consumption. However, until all manufacturers are on a level playing field it will remain difficult to certify what’s truly a green kitchen.

Martin Venus, Head of Sales, IMC: We think food waste management will be the next chapter of the ‘green’ story. If we look at the legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland (soon to be Wales) — where food waste to drain has now been banned — every food business producing over 5kg of food waste each week in these areas is now obliged to pay for a separate food waste collection. When legislation changes for the remainder of the UK, businesses will have no choice but to address the problem.

I’m sure that at some point in the future the government will insist that operators are only allowed a certain level of power usage based on the number of guests they serve”

Mark Cooke, Sales Manager, Commercial Foodservice, Liebherr: A new breed of chefs, owners and operators are looking at what constitutes sustainable food from farm to the fork and that has to include energy efficient equipment that reduces environmental impact. The use of smart technology that captures data from kitchen equipment is becoming more important in monitoring efficient performance and how staff interact with that equipment. Liebherr offers SmartMonitoring to record a range of data including operating temperature and alarms to promote energy efficient operation.

Adrian Brown, Managing Director, Cofresco Foodservice: We think plant-based products will be at the heart of ‘green kitchens’ in the future and this is why we’ve started developing a new plant-based sustainable cling film. Made using PE not PVC, the environmentally-friendly cling film will be available to use with the Wrapmaster 4500 dispenser later in 2018. With sustainability a top priority for us, we are always striving to improve our products, including using materials that have greener credentials. The sustainable cling film is still in early development, but we are very excited about where it will lead and what it will mean for green kitchens in the future.

Simon Frost, Director of Sales & Chain Accounts, Hoshizaki: I see wireless technology playing a key role in driving sustainability and efficiency for businesses. This could be in terms of reducing power consumption in something like a combi oven or fryer, whereby the appliance recognises what has been placed inside and its weight before adjusting the temperature and cook time accordingly. I can also see a need for equipment manufacturers to take into account the rising price of overheads and the squeeze on business profit margins having an impact. This could lead to the situation whereby equipment is operated from a central power bank and charged overnight when the cost and demand for electricity is lower. The stored charge could then be used throughout the day to deliver the necessary power for the equipment used in the kitchen.

Simon Lohse, Managing Director, Rational: Kitchens of the future will contain multifunctional units, hence require less space and will be full of efficient equipment delivering energy savings. New technology will also play a key role in delivering greener kitchens. Traditional equipment that cannot deliver greener solutions will be removed. Young chefs have grown up in a technical age and will demand equipment that uses advanced technology.

Equipment could end up being operated from a central power bank, charged overnight when the cost and demand for electricity is lower”

Steve Hobbs, Managing Director, Grande Cuisine: The focus on price alone is changing as operators look towards striking a balance between capital investment and ongoing operational costs. However, this is still a slow process and I can’t see it getting any faster until operators are taxed or penalised based on the amount of energy they use per site. I’m sure that at some point the government will insist that operators are only allowed a certain level of power usage based on the number of guests they serve. If they go over this level they will be taxed and if they come in under they will be given tax breaks. For example, say there was a standard rate of 1kW of power per person, a site serving 300 guests would be given a 300kW power usage allowance.

Ian Clow, Sales Director, Charvet: What the industry, and particularly the chains, want is powerful, flexible and modular cooking equipment that can be delivered quickly and installed easily. And, of course, they also want traditional heavy duty build quality.

John Shepherd, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Wexiödisk: Over the last few years, the industry has been looking to provide more equipment that further reduces the amount of energy, water and chemicals consumed without compromising on the end wash result. In addition, we are starting to see a rise in recyclable components and equipment with a much longer lifespan thanks a greater focus on easing day-to-day maintence and servicing of the equipment — all of which Wexiodisk is currently doing, and will continue to do, in the future.

Tim Bender, Sales Director, Hobart Warewashing: There is room for manoeuvre with regards to size and footprint, and extracting more capacity from a machine within the same physical space is something we’re very close to unveiling. Higher capacity with the same footprint is becoming more desirable and will become an even bigger challenge going forward. I don’t think hood-type dishwashers are suddenly going to change shape to counter this, but in the future could we see more mobile equipment that can be moved to one side when not in use? This would allow for maximum usage of a prep area in the morning only to see it become a wash up area later on. The machine would need to be light enough to manoeuvre but kitchens already move them around in tight areas to make space. Why not help facilitate this with smarter, more intuitive design?

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