Undeniably, running a food truck represents an incredible business opportunity. With high speed service, a variety of potential customers and varying locations, it is a fast paced and exciting venture. However, maintaining a business of this nature comes with its fair share of considerations.
A food truck business can be challenging to remain environmentally conscious and therefore, running an eco-friendly food truck business can become a struggle. Although it is definitely a difficult industry to navigate, environmentally friendly food trucks with sustainability at their core are becoming more commonplace.
In this article we share 5 different ways you can implement environmentally positive practices within your food truck business. Hopefully, this will help you with putting your best foot forward in the food truck industry. We end the article with 5 food truck companies who we think are great examples of how food trucks can be eco friendly and successful at the same time.
To successfully run and maintain an environmentally friendly food truck there are a range of sustainable practices you should consider. Although implementing these ideas as you go is possible, sustainability focused decision making in the early stages of your business will make it easier to maintain an eco-friendly truck! Here are 5 ways to be more environmentally focused with your food truck business:
One of the biggest environmental impacts that food trucks contribute to is landfill waste. The disposable packaging typically involved in take out food usually consists of predominantly single use plastic cups, tableware and cutlery. Now we all know single use plastic is bad. But have you thought about why it's so bad?
Single use plastics don’t biodegrade. Instead they turn into microplastics which pollute our water sources. Also, as much as we may try to put our best foot forward, only 9% of plastic waste gets recycled.
So, how do we combat this? When a business like a food truck is so reliant on their customers taking their food to go, what is the solution?
Thankfully, we are living in a more environmentally conscious age. This means we are living in a world today where there are so many great alternatives to plastic and paper. Palm leaf tableware is a great example. These products are entirely compostable and zero-waste offering a perfect alternative to plastic and paper products. If you are serving platters of tacos, burgers, larger sharing dishes of chips, or bowls brimming with curry - palm leaf plates and bowls are the perfect solution for you. Have a compost bin near your truck and your customers can just toss the palm leaf plates directly in the compost bin once they are done eating your delicious food. You can check out this great article on how to compost palm leaf plates. Chic Leaf’s line of palm leaf dinnerware is the perfect choice for your business because they offer so many different shapes and sizes of plates, bowls and trays. You will be sure to find the perfect size plate for your business.
While we are on the topic of reducing the waste produced by your food truck, let's talk about paper! We live in the information age, the age of technology! This can be a wonderful thing for the environmentally conscious.
Further reduce your waste by going paperless. Utilize QR menus, often on a tablet, to make digital orders and send digital receipts. Ditch pamphlets and leaflets and posters when marketing and opt to solely digitally advertise your new venture. Get on TikTok and hire a photographer to create content perfect for Instagram. Instagram is also a great way to tell your community where your truck is headed next!
Food trucks naturally produce a lot of food waste. Why not consider teaming with a local homeless shelter to distribute unused produce? For the unsalvageable extras, consider connecting with a local composting business and giving back to the farmers who provide you with the produce you use to make your food.
It is a win-win situation for both your food truck business and the farmers who you source your ingredients from. There are many great ways to compost food waste.
Trucks naturally burna lotof fuel. You need to travel from different locations or events, it's a part of your business, a necessary evil. So how do you reduce your environmental impact in this area?
It is worth considering alternative options to fossil fuel. Biodiesel, a fuel made from vegetable oil, animal fat or other recycled greases, offers a viable alternative. Biodiesel will allow your truck to run on gasses that aren’t negatively impacting the environment. Alternatively, invest in a newer vehicle to reduce emissions or go futuristic and get an electric truck!
Sourcing food locally can reduce your environmental impact. When you import food, it has a large carbon footprint. This is because of the air miles it takes to get that food to you. When you source your food locally, you are not only supporting local farmers and businesses, you are reducing the fuel used in getting that item to you.
Sourcing locally means sourcing seasonally. By adapting your menu to use seasonal produce, you are going to be receiving the best produce on the market and it will be a lot fresher than produce that requires shipping. Your customers will get the best tasting, freshest menu while you support your local community and maintain a more reliable and sustainable supply chain. You may even gain some customers and supporters in your local farmers and businesses!
To help inspire you to make eco-friendly adjustments to your food truck business, we have found five incredible food trucks who are successfully running environmentally friendly businesses.
Between them, they use a range of the sustainable suggestions above. However, they approach their business model’s differently. It is incredibly interesting to understand how each truck has decided to explore their sustainability and the procedures they personally implement.
Green Truck, a Los Angeles based business, is proof that you can have a successful food truck enterprise while looking after your environment! They have reduced their environmental impact in all areas of their business: from the fuel powering their truck to the food on their menu.
Amazingly, Green Trucks run entirely on vegetable oil. This isn’t just any vegetable oil either - it is recycled vegetable oil! They collect the oil that they use while cooking the previous working day and repurpose this product to run their trucks.
Additionally, their kitchens are run entirely by solar power and you will not find any foam or single use plastic on the premises. All of their utensils are made using potato starch! When they have been used, they are sent to the farms which supply their produce to go into the soil as compost. Their packaging actuallysupports the growth of their future ingredients. During your next visit to their truck, be sure to ask them about palm leaf plates! We also love that Green Truck does large catering events so if you are planning a chic outdoor party, consider providing food for all of your guests from Green Truck.
G Monkey uses entirely compostable packaging allowing them to significantly reduce their waste and, as a result, their environmental impact. Choosing to use biodegradable packaging, like palm leaf plates or trays, is one of the simplest ways a food truck can reduce their environmental impact.
G Monkey also supports an entirely plant-based and organic menu led by vegan chef Mark Shadle. This allows him and his team to work alongside local farmers and create a sustainable supply chain with a minimal environmental impact.
This London based food truck makes an active effort to regularly revisit and revise their environmental impact in order to reduce it.
Most notably, all their packaging is environmentally friendly. They proudly state that everything, even the gloves they wear while preparing their food, is compostable just like palm leaf plates. On top of this, they maintain three bins for recycling cans, plastic bottles and food waste.
Street Kitchen doesn’t stop there! They also reduce their environmental impact by working closely with their suppliers to ensure their food is both sustainable and organic. Meaning their egg and bacon brioches are some of the best on the market!
This Vermont based food truck places sustainable farming at the heart of its business ethos.
By sourcing all of their ingredients locally, Farmers and Foragers maintain a sustainable supply chain that has local producers at its heart. This allows their menu to include some of the freshest, most delicious ingredients available in Vermont and keeps their customers coming back for more.
By sourcing their ingredients locally, they are actively reducing their environmental footprint and carbon emissions by choosing not to rely on imported food. We haven't confirmed this yet but looking at their business ethos, we are pretty sure they are using eco-friendly tableware such as palm leaf plates to serve their food as well.
The Roadery tackles their environmental impact in two ways: reducing their food waste and choosing biodegradable packaging.
Owner and chef, Dan Shearmen, shops for his meat with local, family-run farms. This reduces the environmental impact of The Roadery and minimizes their carbon footprint as they are not reliant on imported meats. Shearmen insists on using biodegradable packaging, like bamboo and palm leaf plates. This is one of the fundamental decisions that can support a food truck in limiting its impact on the environment.
Setting up and running a food truck naturally presents challenges when attempting to be environmentally conscious.
The very nature of the business throws up barriers to creating an eco-friendly success. You need to consider: the fuel consumption of the truck, moving regularly to new locations and running a full kitchen; the food waste often experienced in these types of venues; the impact of importing food and the benefits of supporting local; and, of course, the packaging waste that comes with a take out based industry.
The single most easiest way to operate a more sustainable food truck business is by switching to biodegradable and compostable tableware such as palm leaf plates. This simple switch can immediately reduce the environmental impact of your food truck and is easier to implement than navigating vegetable oil as a fuel alternative or installing solar panels to the top of your truck! It is a great first step in reducing your environmental footprint.