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Restaurant industry sustainability: barriers and solutions to sustainable practice indicators

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Restaurants have a cumulative impact on the environment, economy, and society. The majority of restaurants are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Review of sustainability and industry literature revealed that considering restaurants as businesses with sustainable development options is the most appropriate way

Restaurants have a cumulative impact on the environment, economy, and society. The majority of restaurants are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Review of sustainability and industry literature revealed that considering restaurants as businesses with sustainable development options is the most appropriate way to evaluate their sustainable practices or lack thereof. Sustainable development is the means by which a company progresses towards achieving an identified set of sustainability goals and harnesses competitive advantage. The purpose of this thesis is to identify barriers to implementing sustainable practices in restaurants, and explore ways that restaurateurs can incorporate sustainable business practices. Energy consumption, water use, waste production, and food throughput are the four sustainability indicators addressed in this thesis. Interviews were conducted with five Tempe, Arizona restaurants, two of which consider their operations to be sustainable, and three of which are traditional restaurants. Results show that for traditional restaurants, the primary barriers to implementing sustainable business practices are cost, lack of awareness, and space. For sustainability-marketed restaurants, the barriers included a lack of knowledge or legal concerns. The sustainability-marketed restaurants have energy-efficient equipment and locally source a majority of their food purchases. There is a marked difference between the two types of restaurants in perception of barriers to sustainable business practices. I created a matrix to identify whether each indicator metric was applicable and present at a particular restaurant, and the potential barriers to implementing sustainable practices in each of the four indicator areas. Restaurants can use the assessment matrix to compare their current practices with sustainable practices and find ways to implement new or enhance existing sustainable practices. Identifying the barriers from within restaurants increases our understanding of the reasons why sustainable practices are not automatically adopted by SMEs. The assessment matrix can help restaurants overcome barriers to achieving sustainability by highlighting how to incorporate sustainable business practices.

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2011

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Understanding Collaborative Governance of the Food-Energy-Water Nexus: The Cases of Phoenix and Cape Town

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The food-energy-water (FEW) nexus refers to the interactions, trade-offs, and relationships between the three resources and their related governance sectors. Given the significant interdependencies, decisions made in one sector can affect the other two; thus, integrated governance can reduce unintended

The food-energy-water (FEW) nexus refers to the interactions, trade-offs, and relationships between the three resources and their related governance sectors. Given the significant interdependencies, decisions made in one sector can affect the other two; thus, integrated governance can reduce unintended consequences and lead towards increased resource security and sustainability. Despite the known benefits, many governance decisions continue to be made in “silos,” where stakeholders do not coordinate across sectoral boundaries. Scholars have begun to identify barriers to the implementation of integrated FEW nexus governance, yet there is still minimal understanding of the reasons why these barriers exist and no theoretical framework for evaluating or assessing FEW nexus governance. Integrating the theory of collaborative governance with the concept of the FEW nexus provides an opportunity to better understand the barriers to and structures of FEW nexus governance and to propose solutions for increased collaborative FEW nexus governance in practice. To investigate this governance system, I examined the collaborative governance of the FEW nexus in the context of extreme urban water challenges in two urban case cities: Phoenix, Arizona, USA and Cape Town, South Africa. First, I performed a media analysis of the 2018 Cape Town water crisis to understand the impact of the water crisis on the FEW nexus resource system and the collaborative governance employed to respond to that crisis. Second, I conducted a systematic case study of FEW nexus governance in Phoenix, Arizona to understand barriers to collaborative governance implementation in the system and to identify opportunities to overcome these barriers. Finally, I presented a framework of indicators to assess the collaborative governance of the local FEW nexus. This dissertation will advance the sustainability literature by moving the concept of FEW nexus governance from theory and conceptualization towards operationalization and measurement.

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2021