Bottom line: Go green to save green

As a business executive, how much time do you spend monitoring the bottom line? No, no, not that bottom line.

Certainly, you’re monitoring profit margin, cash flow and other indicators that shape the financial bottom line. But, are you focusing on your environmental bottom line? Are you monitoring and taking steps to improve your company’s impact on the environment?

At Donatos, we’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover how sustainability can reduce costs — ultimately creating a healthier Earth and stronger bottom line.

As we test and iterate eco-friendly practices, we’re sharing key lessons, in hopes of helping businesses adopt their own sustainability best practices. For starters:

Get creative about reusing waste

When you’re going through old storage units or basements, be mindful about what you’re discarding. Take a moment to get creative, and you may find new uses for something.

Here’s an example: We produce hundreds of vinyl promotional banners per year. Instead of throwing them out, we partnered with another Ohio company to turn them into upcycled tote bags, which are distributed at company-wide meetings.

The bags encourage associates to adopt sustainability practices of their own, even if it’s as simple as using one in place of a plastic grocery bag.

Make common sense cuts

Although we’re known for our restaurant pizza, the Jane’s Dough Foods division of Donatos produces and sells Take & Bake pizzas in thousands of grocery stores and wholesale clubs across North America. An operation of this scale can negatively impact the environment, so we decided to reduce waste by modifying our cardboard boxes and shrink-wrap packaging.

The result? We reduced raw material use by 24 percent and saved $0.08 per unit — all because we took a common-sense approach to redesigning our packaging with environmental impact as the top priority.

Make it easy for customers

Our pizza boxes and napkins have been upgraded to Kraft paper, which is biodegradable and recyclable, and the Sustainability Forestry Initiative certifies the source material.

Many U.S. municipalities discourage the recycling of pizza boxes. To ensure customers can recycle Donatos boxes, a thin liner is placed underneath each pizza to prevent oils from soiling the package.

See sustainability as an investment

Not every sustainable option comes without cost. But just as investments in your employees pay long-term dividends, investments in sustainability can also yield long-term benefits.

As we reviewed packaging practices for Jane’s Dough Foods, we discovered that we could reduce our shrink-wrap usage by 82 percent, simply by purchasing a new shrink-wrap machine.

This investment ended up being good for business and the environment: Not only did this piece of equipment pay for itself within 18 months and yield a 66 percent return on invested capital, it also saved 125,000 pounds of plastic from being sent to landfills.


Beyond making sure we’re doing our part to be a sustainable company that protects the Earth, we’re proud to take the money we save from these practices and invest it back in Donatos’ most important asset — our people.


Tom Pendrey is the COO of Donatos Pizza. Tom’s career has covered more than 25 years in the consumer products and service industries. In January 2014, he came to Donatos to oversee the 157-store restaurant business and franchise expansion. Tom has been involved in bringing sustainability to businesses in the past two decades serving as a guest lecturer to businesses and schools concerning the economic advantages to being a sustainably driven organization.