The trend that brings pleasure to pedestrians and pain to parking spot-seekers has been both applauded and criticized for its perceived sustainability. Are food trucks greener than brick-and-mortar restaurants?
It's true that roaming restaurants require fuel and generate pollution, but permanent restaurants use scads of electricity, water, and (sometimes) ingredients imported from across the globe. Food trucks, once situated, most often only move once or twice during the day, resulting in less fuel usage than, say, a traditional ice cream truck that is constantly on the prowl for customers. Food trucks use little water, and often source their ingredients from smaller, local vendors.
That said, food trucks generate more paper and plastic waste unless the owner chooses compostable supplies. And here’s where the debate can turn in pretty much any direction you want to take it.
The bottom line is that, just like with any business, the answer boils down to the measures taken by the particular vendor. Some food trucks are easy on the environment, others aren't.
Many food truck vendors practice good green habits, but it's the ones who employ these components that should receive a thumbs-up for sustainability:
- The use of locally farmed ingredients.
- The use of organic ingredients.
- The use of fair trade products.
- Trucks fueled with biodiesel or vegetable oil.
- Trucks with zero-emissions systems.
- The use of propane and rechargeable batteries.
- The use of solar power.
- Packaging and utensils that are either recyclable or compostable.
- Organic and compostable items given to farm or composting facility.
- No idling engine.