Oahu Chapter

Criteria Guide For Restaurants

 

What Makes A Restaurant Ocean Friendly & How To Comply With The Program Criteria?

The Ocean Friendly Restaurants program offers restaurants an easy way to show their commitment to making sustainable choices for our ocean and suggests practices to restaurants to reduce their plastic footprint and address other issues impacting our climate and ocean.

Restaurants participating must follow seven mandatory criteria and choose at least three of  the optional criteria. Restaurants who meet all of the 15 criteria are recognized as a Platinum Level Ocean Friendly Restaurant. The Criteria Guide for Restaurants offers resources on how to meet the individual criteria.

PROGRAM CRITERIA

Learn more on how to comply and what resources are available to you by clicking on the individual criteria.

Criteria Guide For Restaurants

MANDATORY CRITERIA

1. Only reusable foodware is used for onsite dining. 

Foodware includes dinnerware, drinkware, silverware, and ramekins and containers. Cloth napkins should also be used when possible. Essentially, when a customer sits down to enjoy their meal onsite, everything should be served to them in or on something reusable. This results in less waste and more cost savings!

Exemption for Food Trucks and restaurants with 6 or less tables
  • Food trucks and small restaurants with 6 or less tables are exempt from using reusable tableware and qualify if all takeout items do not contain plastic or bio-based plastic.
  • all disposable to-go foodware and serviceware has to be composed of natural materials that can biodegrade in the natural environment (eg. wood, bamboo, paper, hay, etc).

 

MANDATORY CRITERIA

2. Paper straws are provided only upon request.

Exceptions may be made for naturally occurring materials (e.g. hay, bamboo) and reusables (e.g. metal, glass), not including bio-based plastic. Bioplastics or compostable plastic straws are not acceptable alternatives.

It’s still best practice to have customers request a straw, even if they are paper, since they are often not needed and the most sustainable option is no straw at all. Straws should be provided to anyone who needs one, including people with disabilities.

National Vendor Discounts for Ocean Friendly Restaurants:

There are a number of preferred straw vendors offering discounts to Ocean Friendly Restaurants, making it easy to make the switch from plastic. Email OFR@surfrider.org for a discount code.

  • Aardvark (50% OFR discount and free shipping)
    • hemp paper straws (wrapped and unwrapped)
    • paper straws (cocktail, jumbo, eco-flex, bubble tea, giant, customisable)
  • Seastraws (30% OFR discount)
    • paper straws (wrapped and unwrapped)
    • reusable metal or silicone straws
  • Simply Straws (30% OFR discount)
    • reusable glass and metal straws
    • colorful, customizable
  • Little Green Panda (10% OFR discount)
    • wheat straws
    • sugarcane straws
    • reusable bamboo straws, customizable
    • wholesale prices, free trial boxes

Local Resources:

  • BluTensils
    • paper straws (black and white, standard, jumbo, cocktail)
    • wholesale prices, delivery within 24 hours
  • Hawaii Eco Straws
    • provides free reusable metal straws
    • customers take a straw and leave a donation. Donations go back to Hawaii Eco Straw to buy more reusable straws.

 

MANDATORY CRITERIA

3. No expanded polystyrene use (aka Styrofoam).

EPS (aka Styrofoam) is an inexpensive form of plastic typically used in disposable products such as cups, plates, clamshells, etc. It is commonly found during beach cleanups and negatively impacts marine life and ecosystems as a whole.

Best Alternatives:

  • Filling reusable items should be encouraged when possible, which can also lead to cost savings. Some local restaurants are offering their own reusable takeout containers that will be returned by the customer, sanitized at the restaurant, and reused again. 
  • If containers are disposable, we recommend using home-compostable  alternatives for take-out, such as paper or fiber based materials.
  • “Certified compostable” plastic containers are last choice if there is no home-compostable alternative available.

Avoid options labeled as “bioplastic” or “biodegradable” as these can be derived from fossil fuel. More details described at beachapedia.org/Bioplastics.

Availability:

Every major distributor in Hawai`i sells “home compostable” and “certified compostable” products. Most restaurants should ask their current distributors if they have them available but there are also many other distributors who offer it otherwise. 

 

MANDATORY CRITERIA

4. No plastic bags are used for takeout or to-go orders.

Plastic bags are a top threat to marine life, especially turtles who mistake them for food. If you need to provide a bag to customers, please make it paper or encourage customers to bring their own. You can also offer your own branded reusable bags and create extra revenue.

 

MANDATORY CRITERIA

5. Single-use utensils, straws, condiments, and other accessory items are provided only upon request for takeout and to-go orders.

Not everyone who gets take out needs disposable utensils, straws or condiments. Some people may take food home while others may carry utensils in their backpack or car. Take this criteria a step further by offering wooden or paper utensils for those who ask. This is another example where simply asking people to opt-in can help reduce the use of disposable items and, once again, save you money!

Best Alternatives: 

  • Reusable utensil kits available at:
  • single-use wooden utensils or “certified compostable” utensils
    • wooden utensils (forks, knives, spoons), available locally at BluTensils, delivery within 24 hours.
    • Birch wood utensils (forks, knives, spoons, ice cream spoons) from Seastraws (30% OFR discount) 
    • “certified compostable” utensils available at most distributors

 

*NEW* MANDATORY CRITERIA

6. Beverages are not sold in plastic bottles.

Plastic bottles and caps are among the top ten items collected at beach cleanups, especially in states that do not have a bottle recycling law that requires a deposit on bottles and cans.

The best option is to have water refill stations in the restaurant to avoid single-use bottles.

If individual containers are needed, glass bottles and aluminum cans are both more Ocean Friendly options. Ideally you offer a return program for reusable bottles where customers return empty bottles, they get sanitized in the restaurant and are safe to refilled and reused.

 

MANDATORY CRITERIA

7. Proper recycling practices are followed.

Proper recycling helps to ensure that items aren’t littered and are diverted from the landfill to live a second life as something new which saves costs and reduces waste on our island.

If you sell any plastic bottles, aluminum cans, or glass, please provide recycling containers that are easily visible for customers. Ensure that cardboard and any other delivery packaging are also recycled.

Most cities and states have recycling mandates so please check with your municipality and/or waste hauler for any local requirements. Visit the City of Honolulu’s Virtual Tour de Trash to learn more about O`ahu’s waste system or access specific resources for Business Recycling.

Mandatory Recycling on O’ahu https://www.opala.org/solid_waste/archive/Mandatory_Recycling_Laws.html

  • Bars and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages are required to recycle glass containers, effective July 1, 1996. (See City Ordinance, Chapter 9 – 3.5 or at opala.org
  • Hotels, restaurants over 5,000 square feet, food courts, and food manufacturers/processors meeting specific size criteria defined by ordinance are required to recycle food waste, effective January 1, 1997. (See City Ordinance, Chapter 9 – 3.5)

Consider going one step further by composting organic food waste and meet one of our optional criteria!

 

OPTIONAL CRITERIA

1. A discount is offered for customers with a reusable item (e.g. cup, container, bag).

By offering a small discount for customers that bring their own coffee mug, food container, or reusable bag, you will build a loyal following with your conservation practices.

Reusable items are a top choice for retail conservation and can make the biggest impact for a clean beach and ocean. Consider selling reusables onsite to encourage this Ocean Friendly behavior!

Advertising Discounts:

  • Make a sign to notify customers about your discount
  • advertise the discount on social media
  • offer rewards for customers who bring their own cup, container, etc.

 

OPTIONAL CRITERIA

2. Vegetarian and vegan food options are offered on a regular basis.

Offering vegetarian and vegan food options can reduce the impact of climate change, rainforest destruction, and pollution, while saving water and other precious resources. Not to mention, it will increase the number of customers who can frequent your establishment considering plant-based diets are on the rise. Learn more at chooseveg.com/environment.

Clearly labeled vegetarian and vegan options on the physical and/or online menus help the consumer find their options limited to their diet.

If you are an all vegan restaurant, you can get additional advertisement through the Good Food Movement Hawai’i.

 

OPTIONAL CRITERIA

3. All seafood is ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ as defined by Seafood Watch, or certified as sustainable.

The Surfrider Foundation is a strong supporter of marine protected areas to increase fish abundance and diversity in the ocean. Fishing nets account for most of the marine debris and pose a huge threat for marine life.

Compared to other OFR criteria, serving Sustainable seafood is complicated and dynamic. Restaurants not offering any seafood or fish qualify in meeting this criteria.

Local, Sustainable Seafood resources:

  • Local ‘ Ia Hawai’i
    • A distribution and subscription-based seafood business that sources local, in-season seafood caught through pono fishing practices
    • integrates MSC pre-assessment criteria
  • Kualoa Ranch
    • oyster and shrimp raised on the property
  • Kauai’i Shrimp Farm
    • shrimp raised in salt ponds

Other Sustainable Seafood resources:

  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program
    • science-based list of recommendations to help consumers choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment.
    • offers a printable guideline for Hawaii
    • certifies businesses, restaurants, industry and conservation organizations for following their fish guidelines
  • EDF Seafood Selector
    • A guide to commercial fish organized by how their capture affects the environment (ranges from eco-best, eco-ok, and eco-worst choices)
  • Marine Stewardship Council
    • list and map of certified fisheries. These are predominantly on the larger coasts and not necessarily local to Hawaii
  • Fish Choice
    • offers free membership for Ocean Friendly Restaurants
    • dashboard that helps restaurants see where their restaurant falls in the FishChoice scale. A Surfrider Chapter can also view the restaurants that sign up so that you can track change/stats.
    • Provides transparency for fish products and can be used to find new suppliers and new products (Hawaii filtered industries)
    • Can also use the Seafood Search to find specifically rated seafood by area

 

OPTIONAL CRITERIA

4. Water conservation and pollution mitigation efforts are implemented.

Restaurants can also choose to conserve water through efforts such as low flow faucets and toilets. Conserving water in drought-stricken areas can help reduce the perceived demand for expensive and harmful ocean desalination. Conserving water also helps reduce urban runoff.

Water Conservation Efforts:

  • Providing water to customers only upon request is a simple action to take.
  • Another is installing low-flow faucets and toilets, which can help to conserve a significant amount of water.
  • Add a pre-rinse valve to dish cleaner or adding a spray faucet aerator can help conserve water.
  • Make it a company policy to use a broom, rather than a hose, to clear sidewalks, driveways, loading docks and parking lots to reduce urban runoff.
  • When poured down the drain, fats, oils, and greases harden inside sewer pipes, constricting wastewater flow and clogging the pipes. This can lead to sewer overflows that can potentially reach the ocean. Make it a priority to follow your local requirements for a grease trap and FOG management.
  • Outdated septic tanks can present a potential hazard for wastewater pollution by leaching nitrogen into local waterways. Ensure your systems are up-to-date and reflect local standards.

Local Resources:

 

OPTIONAL CRITERIA

5. Energy efficiency efforts are in place.

Conserving energy will lower your carbon footprint and help to lessen the impacts of climate change. Restaurants are some of the most energy intensive commercial buildings in the country according to the Energy Information Administration. There are a number of options for energy and cost savings for both equipment and lighting. Learn more at sustainablefoodservice.com/cat/energy-efficiency.htm

Energy Efficiency Efforts:

  • install energy efficient kitchen appliances
  • install energy efficiency lighting

Local Resources:

  • Pono Homes
    • offers free utility audits to find inefficiencies in appliances, electronics, lighting, building envelope, leaks and more.
    • customisable service with price-matching
  • Hawai’i Energy
    • Energy Star Incentive List offers cash incentives for switching to energy-efficient technologies in commercial kitchens
    • Energy Advantage Program provides qualifying participants with lighting upgrades at significantly reduced prices

 

*NEW* OPTIONAL CRITERIA

6. Concessions and pre-packaged food items are not sold in plastic packaging.

 

*NEW* OPTIONAL CRITERIA

7. Composting efforts are in place for food waste.

Consider diverting your food waste from the waste stream.

Mandatory Food Waste Recycling on O’ahu https://www.opala.org/solid_waste/archive/Mandatory_Recycling_Laws.html

Hotels, restaurants over 5,000 square feet, food courts, and food manufacturers/processors meeting specific size criteria defined by ordinance are required to recycle food waste, effective January 1, 1997. (See City Ordinance, Chapter 9 – 3.5)

Availability of Food Waste Recycling on O’ahu
https://www.opala.org/solid_waste/food_waste_recycling.html

  • Meat, Seafood, Cooking Oil
    • Island Commodities (Baker Commodities): 808-682-5844
    • Pacific Biodiesel: 808-841-2177
  • Produce and Food Scraps:
    • EcoFeed: 808-841-5586
  • For collector and pig farmer information contact:
    • University of Hawaii, Swine Extension Specialist (956-7594)
    • City & County of Honolulu, Recycling Office (768-3200)

 

*NEW* OPTIONAL CRITERIA

8. Neither single-use plastic nor bio-based plastic containers are used for takeout or to-go orders, reusable containers are preferred.

Best Alternatives:

  • Filling reusable items should be encouraged when possible, which can also lead to cost savings. Some local restaurants are offering their own reusable takeout containers that will be returned by the customer, sanitized at the restaurant, and reused again. 
  • If containers are disposable, we recommend using home-compostable  alternatives for take-out, such as paper or fiber based materials.

Avoid options labeled as “bioplastic” or “biodegradable” as these can be derived from fossil fuel. More details described at beachapedia.org/Bioplastics.

Availability:

Every major distributor in Hawai`i sells “home compostable”  fiber or paper based products. Most restaurants should ask their current distributors if they have them available but there are also many other distributors who offer it otherwise.