ShareThis Page

Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program open for business

| Thursday, July 16, 2015, 9:14 p.m.

The possibility that the Pittsburgh region could become a national forerunner in the still-emerging restaurant sustainability movement became a reality July 16.

The announcement of the launch of the voluntary Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program, open to all restaurants, focuses on ways in which establishments “value people and the planet, in addition to profits,” says Rebecca Bykoski, program manager for the nonprofit Sustainable Pittsburgh.

Since the restaurant industry is the second-largest private-sector employer in the United States, and a significant engine of economic growth, the consideration of its environmental, economic and social impacts of operations is crucial, she says.

The new program, a year-and-a-half in the planning stages, is designed to help restaurants build their businesses by incorporating sustainable principles into their existing processes.

“There's potential for a lot of positive impact because the industry is so large and everyone goes out to eat,” says Bykoski. “There's a significant opportunity to make people more aware of the various aspects of our food system and work together to improve it.”

Stephen Musciano, general manager of sports and entertainment for Aramark at PNC Park, was an early proponent of the program.

“Going green and being more sustainable is a moral obligation that we have to our guests, our children and our environment,” he says in a statement. “Our guests are becoming much more aware of the need to go green. This is not a fad, but becoming a way of life — a better way to live.”

The few programs that exist nationally are primarily environmental and do not have a large social component, says Bykoski.

“Ours distinguishes itself as much for its social focus as environmentally, looking at ways for people to gain access to food, helping the farming economy, improving working conditions and education and awareness for consumers. A lot of community impact can be had,” she says.

Bykoski believes it will draw more attention to the benefits of local sourcing for food and provide a positive economic impact for the local farming community and others “and it will encourage more restaurants to be involved.”

Sustainability takes into consideration how restaurant decisions and operations affect people, the planet and profits, she says, being both environmentally aware and socially responsible.

The Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program will provide recognition for participating restaurants. That involves a restaurant completing an online self-assessment that evaluates its current state of operations. Topics include water, waste, energy, food sourcing, people, community engagements and nutrition.

Restaurants will receive “starter,” “bronze,” “silver,” “gold” and “platinum” designations, based on the self-assessment.

The Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant website features a restaurant finder for diners.

“Restaurants will be able to have cost-savings, an increased number of guests, increased revenues and stand out as a leader in their community,” Bykoski says. “They will be seen as part of a vibrant restaurant community that is working to make the region better.”

Details: 412-258-6647 or sustainablepghrestaurants.org

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or rrutkoski@tribweb.com

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.