Conscious Dining: Navigating The Intersection Of Sustainability Within The F&B Industry In fostering a culture of reuse and recycling to significantly decrease their carbon footprint, outlets are reshaping F&B practices and operations that are not only appealing to conscientious consumers, but also allows them to advocate for sustainable living.

By Joe Steinwold

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As the UAE gears up to host the 28th edition of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, the urgency to protect the environment has taken centerstage within the country's agenda, especially given that 2023 has been designated as its "Year of Sustainability."

In Dubai's F&B landscape, we see a move to a more comprehensive implementation of sustainability such as recycled materials across furniture, uniforms, and zero-waste menus. In fostering a culture of reuse and recycling to significantly decrease their carbon footprint, outlets are reshaping F&B practices and operations that are not only appealing to conscientious consumers, but also allows them to advocate for sustainable living.

The F&B industry holds a staggering share of responsibility for environmental impact, contributing significantly to emissions and unsustainable practices. According to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, approximately one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to the F&B industry. This encompasses the energy-intensive processes of food production, sourcing, and transportation, coupled with the environmental ramifications of food and beverage packaging that accumulate in landfills.

It is thus evident that a re-evaluation of operational practices must be implemented to reduce carbon footprint and integrate sustainability. Such a transformation not only aligns with global environmental goals, but also promises tangible benefits for businesses, which will, in turn, reduce their operational costs. The F&B industry has many unsustainable practices from packaging and food waste, to the carbon footprint associated with transportation from sourcing ingredients. In the relentless pursuit of long-term environmental responsibility, single-use plastics, non-recyclable packaging, and inefficient supply chain practices should be replaced by eco-friendly alternatives.

The new generation of consumers, who have adopted an elevated thinking with evolved preferences, prioritize sustainability as a key criterion, and now play a pivotal role towards shaping the industry's perspective.

Related: Keeping It Real: Why Greenwashing Isn't The Way To Go When It Comes To Your Business' ESG Strategy

Image courtesy BOGA Superfoods.

As the founder and CEO of BOGA Superfoods, I've personally been associated with one of the local UAE businesses that are already diligently implementing actions on reducing unsustainable practices. In fact, we at BOGA have been working towards aligning our daily company operations with the growing ethos of conscientious consumerism.

The new BOGA Superfoods concept, which is set to open in November as a clean and nutritious experience, is committed to sustainability- from growing and cultivating its in-house herbs, to creating all sauces and dressings from scratch to avoid additives, and reducing total dissolved solids by bottling its own water. Embracing a hyper-local approach to sourcing, the concept also eradicates the need for long-distance produce transportation, consequently mitigating carbon dioxide, curbing the release of harmful emissions. In addition to sourcing their produce and furniture locally, the clean concept also measures and reduces portion sizes to strategically minimize the food waste.

The concept also partners with companies such as Bustanica, the world's largest vertical farm, located in Dubai. Centered around sustainability, it uses hydroponic techniques for growing produce, creating a controlled and pesticide-free environment that reduces water consumption by a staggering 95%. F&B companies should take a more significant stride towards a sustainable and water-efficient method of food production, which also provides a commitment to energy efficiency, utilizing minimal electricity, and optimizing ventilation systems.

Image courtesy Feels by the Beach.

As for another example of a sustainability conscious business, Feels by the Beach emerges as another transformative force, centered towards eco-friendly operations with biodegradable elements seamlessly integrated into their delivery packaging and cutlery. The dedication extends to the interiors and clothing of the brand, with recycled materials shaping its furniture as well as 100% recycled cotton used to manufacture employee uniforms. With the implementation of responsible waste management practices, its innovative segregation system ensures daily waste is tracked and recycled, effectively reducing food wastage to as low as 2%.

Understanding the relationship between clean food and sustainability thus can allow F&B businesses to foster a symbiotic connection that aligns consumer demands with sustainable solutions. Propelling a shared commitment towards a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible future, together, we can navigate the nexus between global objectives and local industry practices. These beacons of sustainability not only set a precedent for conscientious business, but they also illuminate a viable path towards a greener, more responsible future for the UAE F&B sector.

Related: What You Need To Know As The World Gets Ready For COP28 In The UAE

A seasoned restaurateur, Joe Steinwold is a visionary entrepreneur and seasoned business leader, who completed his early education in California. By 1984, he was equipped with a comprehensive MBA with a focus on Marketing and Finance from the prestigious Illinois Institute of Technology. Joe’s trailblazing spirit became evident when he assumed the role of the First General Manager at Al Tazaj Fakieh Chicken (Taza). With his adept leadership, he transformed the company into a thriving business powerhouse, setting unprecedented benchmarks in the industry. Joe turned a new page in his career, venturing into entrepreneurship with the establishment of BOGA Superfoods. The venture showcases his keen business acumen and commitment to health and wellness.

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