The National Restaurant Association released its second annual sustainability report, which examines environmentally stable trends and initiatives within the restaurant industry, such as food waste reduction, composting, recycling and cost-efficient energy solutions.

Download a free copy of "Serving up Sustainability":

"Today, more than ever, environmental consciousness is important to restaurateurs and their guests," said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association. "Through increasing awareness and implementation of sustainability practices, the restaurant industry is operating more efficiently, conserving more natural resources and helping improve the environment for everyone we serve. Through our Conserve program, we are working diligently to educate restaurateurs and encourage them to take action. Giving operators the tools they need to be more sustainable is the key to long-term success."

Recent NRA research found that 46 percent of consumers would dine at restaurants offering sustainable or organic food, and more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds want to go to restaurants that practice sustainability. Because of this, operators are seeking ways to operate more responsibly.

In addition to ranking sustainability as a top menu trend for 2015, more than four in 10 professional chefs surveyed for the National Restaurant Association's What's Hot report predicted environmental sustainability would be the hottest menu trend 10 years from now.

"Sustainability may take more time and effort, but ultimately it's about using resources efficiently," said Jeff Clark, Director of the National Restaurant Association's Conserve program.  "Businesses that squeeze the most out of what they use, whether it is electricity, water or food, can cut costs and run smarter, more effective businesses. They're better able to attract guests and retain employees, particularly among millennials and members of Generation Z."

The NRA says food waste reduction was a central issue in 2014, and the initiative remains a top priority in 2015.

"Reducing food waste doesn't have to be difficult or expensive," said Laura Abshire, Director of Sustainability Policy and Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association.  "Businesses that divert material from the waste stream and donate their unused food make a positive impact — financially, socially and environmentally."

To help restaurateurs learn more about sustainability, the NRA has produced:

New web resources: a revamp of, which offers tips, tools and advice on business practices that save money and protect the environment

A new monthly newsletter highlighting best practices, case studies, and video advice from industry experts that offer interested operators insight into sustainability:

Research conducted by Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy that determined how restaurants in Durham, N.C., could divert material from landfills and reduce food waste throughout the city:

A second report offering advice from industry experts at NRA Show 2014. "Spotlight on Sustainability" detailed easy steps restaurateurs could take to be more environmentally friendly: