For the past 28 years, blue plate catering has been serving some of Chicago's finest food. But now it is also turning an eye toward the environment.
"We've always prided ourselves on providing good product to our customers and having a good environment for our employees, so to us sustainability is just a natural step," Jim Horan, CEO, Blue Plate Catering, said.
From Energy Star appliances to aerators on all of the faucets, the company has been tweaking the way it does business. And the changes have added up. It's now the first catering company in the city to earn the "guaranteed green" seal from the Green Restaurant Association.
"The Green Restaurant Association has seven categories to choose from such as disposables, cleaning supplies, our waste, our energy, our water, our food and then also materials that are used in the building," Laura Lukas, sustainability coordinator, Blue Plate Catering, said.
One area where the company has made the biggest impact is in diverting its waste. Cooks recycle and compost in the kitchen. The company donates leftover food to a shelter. It also sends its wine corks to a company that recycles them to make shoes.
"Through all of these things, we've been able to divert about 58% of our waste and that's been a big success for the company," Lukas said.
Company leaders say they have an on-going commitment to greening their business and they hope to pass those lessons along.
"We're role modeling for people that work here. We're role modeling hopefully for some of our competition. I think we are role modeling for the community in general," Horan said.
The Green Restaurant Association will re-evaluate the company's status on a yearly basis. Blue Plate Catering will have to continually show new efforts toward sustainability in order to keep the certification. To learn more about the process, visit blueplatechicago.com and dinegreen.com.