The modern world is dominated by tech innovations consumers never needed but now can’t live without. From virtual AI assistants to cryptocurrency to self-driving cars, the market is saturated with novelties programmed to increase convenience, efficiency, and productivity.
As tech innovations took over the restaurant industry, a completely different trend started to emerge: sustainability. While one side focused on convenience and efficiency, the other prioritized collaboration and conservation.
With contrasting goals, it’s easy to imagine a lack of overlap between the two. This, however, is not the case. A hidden by-product of certain tech products is its indirect positive effect on the environment. This is particularly evident in restaurants that make one minor change to their operations: switching to cloud technology.
Research has shown that cloud solutions can reduce energy use and carbon emissions by almost a third compared to on-premise applications. By embracing cloud technology in their front and back offices, restaurants can drastically reduce their carbon footprint without compromising on convenience.
Reduction of Carbon Emissions
Cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems offer many advantages for restaurants. It streamlines operations, improves order accuracy, and ensures data integrity. It is also easier to use and much more affordable compared to its on-premise counterpart. These are the benefits that restaurants normally lean towards when deciding between the two. Cloud POS systems, however, also improve other aspects, namely energy usage and e-waste.
The hardware setup of a typical on-premise POS involves terminals, local servers, proprietary hardware, and other miscellaneous equipment. On-premise POS systems are typically equipped with a large number of features—most of which end up unused—leading to an abundance of underutilized hardware. Regardless if only a fraction of their features is being used, they still require a massive amount of energy to maintain a constant power supply.
When hardware reaches its end-of-life, it turns into electronic waste (e-waste) and the issue of its disposal arises. With millions of tons generated annually, e-waste is one of the fastest growing segments and can be some of the most dangerous items to discard. They contain harmful materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, beryllium, and brominated flame retardants. While a large part of its components can be recycled, only a minuscule fraction end up getting reprocessed.
By moving to cloud technology, hardware requirements are versatile, typically allowing restaurants to use the devices they already have on hand such as tablets and smartphones. In reducing the reliance on costly, energy-guzzling hardware, restaurants reduce their carbon footprint. With a pay-as-you-go and self-service subscription model, restaurants are encouraged to only consume what they need, when they need it, and nothing more.
Paper Usage of FOH & BOH
One obvious green benefit of cloud-based technology is that it promotes a paper-free operation. The paper and pulp industry produces millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually. While recycling efforts can offset some of the damage, the fact remains that paper production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Restaurants, especially those with high table turnover like quick service restaurants, generate a large amount of paper waste. From invoices to kitchen tickets, paper usage can add up during a shift. By moving restaurant operations to digital platforms, such as a cloud POS or kitchen display system, restaurants can reduce their reliance on paper, inadvertently reducing operational costs and waste.
Environmental benefits of cloud technology don’t stop at the operational aspect of restaurants but also permeates to its back office. By integrating the point-of-sale with a cloud accounting software like Xero, data is seamlessly synced between the applications. Cloud POS systems that are connected with Xero offer restaurants a total business solution, improving efficiency and operations while minimizing costs and wastage.
As a cloud-based software, Xero allows restaurant owners to access their business finances anytime from any internet-enabled device as well as give collaborative access to their accounting and bookkeeping team. By automatically syncing the daily sales data, restaurants can track their cash flow in real time. Shifting to cloud accounting gives an easier and more accurate overview of finances and ensures the integrity of inputted data.
Environmental Impact of the Cloud
Cloud technology is one of the best opportunities for restaurants to combat emissions and wastage caused by underutilized or unnecessary equipment. Cloud computing maximizes the versatility of infrastructures which leads to fewer hardware requirements for operations. The biggest winners are restaurants and other small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which can reduce their carbon footprint by more than half through automating processes and maximizing existing hardware.
By embracing cloud computing, restaurants can enjoy higher efficiency and stronger data security. A streamlined operation requires less equipment, less energy, less paper, and less costs—great for the restaurant and even greater for the environment.