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Hospitality Newsletter – Sustainability Edition October 2018

Hospitality Newsletter

Sustainability Edition

October 2018



Sexual Harassment (NYS):

The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) has published resources for employers and employees about the state’s new sexual harassment prevention laws.
On October 1, 2018, the DOL unveiled an updated website with final versions of:

  • minimum standards for employer sexual harassment prevention policies
    • a model sexual harassment prevention policy
    • a model complaint form
    • sexual harassment prevention training materials

The DOL’s updated website also includes a more comprehensive FAQ section, a sexual harassment prevention toolkit for employers, a sexual harassment prevention policy notice, and supplemental training materials. Because employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy that complies with the new law by October 9, 2018, it is imperative that employers review the DOL’s website and determine whether they need to update their sexual harassment prevention policies. A number of things have changed since the initial drafts were released in August.


Reasonable Accommodation (NYC):

Late last year, the New York City Council amended the New York City Human Rights Law (CHRL) to expand employer obligations requiring reasonable workplace accommodations for employees and relevant job applicants. These expanded obligations went into effect on October 15, 2018. Under the CHRL, employers with more than four employees are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities as well as those who are pregnant, victims of domestic violence, or have religious reasons and needs. The duty to provide reasonable accommodations to such individuals also applies to applicants for employment. The New York Commission on Human Rights has published its Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Disability. Among other things, this document contains a sample Reasonable Accommodation Request form, a sample Grant or Denial of Reasonable Accommodation Request form, and a sample letter to send to employees who are taking leave as a reasonable accommodation. No later than October 15, New York City employers must ensure that they properly document all accommodations/conveniences – no matter how mundane or trivial – provided to employees because of the employee’s: (1) disability; (2) pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition; (3) religion; or (4) experiences as a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses, or stalking.


Temporary Schedule Change (NYC):

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) recently issued regulations regarding implementation of the city’s new Temporary Schedule Change Law that include a notice requirement for employers. Although not specifically referenced in the ordinance, the DCA is requiring all New York City employers to post the You Have a Right to Temporary Changes to Your Work Schedule notice attached to this email in the workplace, effective immediately. The notice must be printed on 11” x 17” paper. While the notice is currently available only in English, employers must post the notice in any other language that is the primary language of at least 5 percent of the workforce at that worksite once the DCA makes such translations available. Effective July 18, 2018, New York City employers are now required under the New York City Temporary Schedule Change Law to accommodate employee requests for temporary schedule changes under certain circumstances. These requirements are in addition to the leave employers must provide their employees under the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA). The DCA has also detailed the penalties for violations of the New York City Temporary Schedule Change Law. Employers may be subject to a $500 fine for the first violation, a $750 fine for the second violation and a $1,000 fine for all subsequent violations within a two-year period. Additionally, the employer may be liable to the employee in the amount of $500 (or $2,500 if the employer retaliates against an employee by terminating the employee’s employment) plus any compensatory damages (including back pay) and other relief required of the employer.

Source: Fox Rothschild LLP




As of August 15th, 2018, certain NYC businesses are now required by law to separate their organic waste. Per the NYC Department of Sanitation, if your businesses meet the minimum requirements below, then you must comply with the new Business Organic Rules.


As of August 15, 2018:

  • Food service establishments with a floor area of at least 15,000 square feet
  • Food service establishments that are part of a chain of 100 or more locations in NYC
  • Retail food stores with a floor area of at least 25,000 square feet


As of July 19, 2016:

  • Food service establishments in hotels with 150 or more rooms
  • Arenas and stadiums with a seating capacity of at least 15,000 people
  • Food manufacturers with a floor area of at least 25,000 square feet
  • Food wholesalers with a floor area of at least 20,000 square feet


To learn more about commercial organics requirements, please visit nyc.gov/businessorganics


Additional reminder: All businesses, regardless of size or type, have been required to recycle metal, glass jars and bottles, rigid plastic, clean paper and cardboard for years. These items must never be mixed with garbage. For more information on these requirements, please visit nyc.gov/businessrecycling

Source: NYC Hospitality Alliance





Restaurants of all types are conserving resources, reducing waste and connecting with environmentally aware guests. The National Restaurant Association surveyed restaurant owners and operators about their environmental efforts and sustainability challenges and consumers about how restaurants could best promote sustainability practices to guests.


Highlights of the report:

Energy-saving equipment and practices are common

  • Eight in 10 restaurant operators use energy-efficient lighting.
  • Six in 10 use programmable thermostats.
  • More than four in 10 use Energy Star-rated refrigerators, freezers and icemakers.
  • Six in 10 restaurant kitchens use start-up/shut-down schedules to reduce the energy drain of kitchen equipment.

Reducing food waste is emerging as a key activity for operators

  • About half of restaurant operators track the amount of food waste their restaurant generates.
  • One in five donate edible leftovers to charities.
  • More than one in ten compost food waste.

Many operators source packaging and supplies made from materials with a smaller environmental footprint

  • Seventy-two percent of operators buy some packaging and supplies that contain recyclable material.
  • Fifty-six percent buy supplies certified as compostable.

A restaurant’s sustainability effort can influence guests’ restaurant choices

  • About half of consumers say that a restaurant’s efforts to recycle, donate food or reduce food waste can be factors in where they choose to dine.
  • The best way to promote restaurant sustainability efforts is on the menu.





Although foodservice packaging and related supplies make up approximately 3% of a restaurant’s expenses, these items have consumed a disproportionate percentage of mindshare lately. Bans on certain types of products such as expanded polystyrene (foam) containers, plastic bags, and most recently plastic straws, have been causing headaches. Here are ten tips to help make sense of the changing landscape of packaging materials, environmental claims, and disposal pathways.

  • The term biodegradable is often used to market products but can be misleading. For example, an aluminum can is biodegradable…in 200 years. On the other hand, a banana, when buried in a sanitary landfill, will never biodegrade.
  • Compostable is another term that needs clarification. Products that are BPI Certified compostable must be processed in a commercial composting facility in order to be converted into the nutrient-rich compost material that can be reused in agricultural applications. If a compostable product ends up in a landfill, it remains intact.
  • All plastics are recyclable however not are all are economically feasible. Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) is the most commonly recycled plastic in both residential and commercial recycling programs. This type of plastic is used to make many types of clear plastic packaging and bottles and can be recycled multiple times.
  • Cardboard and paper are recyclable but must be free of contaminants such as food, grease, and other debris.
  • Many alternative raw materials can be used to make foodservice packaging including bio-based and rapidly renewable materials that may also be compostable when certified and appropriately processed.
    • Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, growing as much as 24” in a day. The material is used to make compostable plates, cutlery, and straws.
    • Sugarcane Pulp, also called Bagasse, is a byproduct of the harvesting process. It is used to make compostable plates, bowls, and other containers.
    • Wheat straw is another rapidly renewable material that can be used similarly to sugarcane pulp, also compostable.
    • Cornstarch, when converted into polylactic acid (PLA), is made into compostable cups, lids, and straws. Although the material looks like plastic, is not suitable for hot applications.
    • Palm sheaths naturally dry and fall from trees. They are collected and converted into compostable plates, bowls, and containers.
  • The disposal process may be the most challenging part of the equation. An operator can use recyclable and compostable packaging and supplies, but the consumer must then dispose of the item into the correct collection bin. Cross-contamination of recyclables or compostables will result in the load ending up in the landfill.
  • For on-premises disposal, using prominent signage including pictograms can help educate staff and customers. Video monitors are another option and may be more attention-grabbing than static signs.
  • Custom-print packaging can convey your sustainability messaging and include instructions for proper disposal, on-site or off.
  • Although there are many sustainable alternatives, it is still important to ensure that the packaging performs correctly and increases customer satisfaction. Test all options for temperature and humidity control, strength, grease-resistance, and presentation.
  • Going green is not black and white. Work with an experienced supplier partner to select the most appropriate packaging and supplies for your unique situation.
Source: NYC Hospitality Alliance
Source: https://www.shopatdean.com/blogs/news/6-ways-to-make-your-restaurant-eco-friendly-in-2018




An E. coli outbreak is a nightmare for everyone: the customers, the community and the restaurant where it happened. For restaurant operators, corrective next steps are crucial to success; they can’t afford to make one mistake. What should you do in the event of an outbreak? First, pay attention to all information, updates and product recall announcements. Because the food supply chain is complex, sometimes suppliers or manufacturers don’t deliver timely notices of the recall. Below, Ashley Miller, a food safety and industry relations expert, offers five tips on how to deal with an outbreak and the removal of contaminated foods or other products:

  • Execute an effective recall plan: If you identified a product affected by a recall, look at the brand of the product as well as the code date, lot number and manufacturing facility if it is available.
  • Remove the affected items from your inventory and place them in a secure and proper location, away from any food, utensils, equipment, linens, or single-use items you are planning to use. Also, make sure to wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store potentially contaminated products. In addition, make sure you wash your hands with soap and hot water following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Label affected items in a way that will prevent them from being put back into the inventory.
  • When isolating or disposing of the products, refer to the vendor’s notification or recall notice. This is critical because product reimbursement often only occurs if you take the required actions provided by the vendor.
  • Inform staff members not to use the affected products. A helpful practice is to create a communications plan employees can use to explain to customers how the restaurant responded to the outbreak and is addressing the problem. They should know how to properly answer customers’ questions and concerns, and communicate a consistent and accurate message.
Source: National Restaurant Association
Source: https://www.livescience.com/62535-e-coli-romaine-outbreak-more-cases.html




The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) is a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and the outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry. Launched in 2002, the RPI is released on the last business day of each month.


Latest RPI (released September 28, 2018)


Driven by stronger same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) registered a healthy gain in August. The RPI stood at 102.0 in August, up 1.0 percent from a level of 101.1 in July.

The Current Situation Index stood at 102.3 in August – up 1.6 percent from July and the highest level since December.  August represented the seventh consecutive month in which the Current Situation Index stood above the 100 level in expansion territory.

The Expectations Index stood at 101.7 in August – up 0.4 percent from a level of 101.4 in July. The Expectations Index trended sideways for the last several months, after retreating from a nearly three-year high in December.

Read the full RPI report

RPI Methodology

The RPI is measured in relation to a neutral level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, while index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. The Index consists of two components – the Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), and the Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions).

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among more than 400 restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures. Restaurant operators interested in participating in the tracking survey, contact Bruce Grindy at bgrindy@restaurant.org.