Green Glossary



Bagasse: Salvaged sugar cane pulp material which can be converted into biodegradable plates, cups and carry-out containers.

Biodegradable: Able to metabolically break down into simpler compounds including carbon dioxide, water and biomass, leaving no toxins behind.

Biodiesel: A petroleum-free diesel fuel made from vegetable oil or other biomass. Also called biofuel.

Biomass: The biological matter, typically plant matter, which can be used for a potential source of energy or fuel.

Bioplastic: Disposable food service products made from vegetable or sugarcane fibers. They are designed to mimic plastic disposables but break down in commercial composting facilities or in nature without leaching any toxic chemicals.

Borax: A white, powder-like chemical compound used as a non-toxic household or commercial cleaner, deodorant, sanitizer and pest repellant.

Brown grease: Low grade used fryer oil removed from passive restaurant grease traps, mixed with dirty water and often considered unusable.


CFL: Compact Fluorescent Light, a compact version of a typical fluorescent. They last longer, produce less heat and conserve more energy than incandescent lights.

Compost: The decomposed remnants of organic matter often used for fertilizer or landscaping purposes. Also see Humus.

Composting: The process of mixing various organic materials in a bin or heap where it leaves behind the compost, or humus. Composting diverts organic waste from landfills and can be done in-house, residentially or in a commercial facility.

Compostable: All natural and organic products or materials that are biodegradable with the help of air, moisture and natural organisms.


Environmentally preferable: Another way of saying environmentally friendly, sustainable or ecologically responsible. Some environmental certification programs use this terminology to describe green products or appliances.


FOG: Fats, oils and grease, which include commercial kitchen byproducts that can cause sewer damage, backups and pollution.


Gray water: Slightly used water that can be reused for purposes like irrigation or cleaning. Also called reclaimed water.

Grease recovery devices: An improved automatic grease trap that separates water from grease more effectively, resulting in cleaner grease. See yellow grease.

Grease trap: A plumbing device designed to intercept greases and solid waste before they enter the sewage system. Also called a grease interceptor.

Green: Refers to products, equipment, practices and concepts that promote environmental sustainability.

Greenwashing: Falsely advertising a product as eco-friendly without compliance with standards, testing results or other reliable proof.


Heat Recovery System: Technology than can be applied to water heaters in order to capture energy from otherwise wasted hot water going down the drain. The heat energy is used to preheat cold water entering the heater or water flowing to another fixture.

Humus: Nutrient-rich mulch or compost resulting from mixing various organic chemicals together in a bin and allowing air, moisture and organisms to break it down. See Compost.

HVAC: Heating, ventilating and air conditioning, referring to climate control in buildings.


Leaching: The process of dissolving components of a material into liquid, such as harmful chemicals leaching into ground water.

LED: Light Emitting Diode, an energy-efficient, longer lasting and less harmful replacement for standard incandescent lights in everyday fixtures.

Lifecycle: The projected lifespan of an appliance or piece of equipment. Also pertains to the process of production, starting with extracting resources and materials from nature, manufacturing a product, consuming the product and finally disposing of the product.

Low-flow pre-rinse valve: Pre-rinse prayer component allowing water to flow at an increased velocity but using fewer gallons per minute in order to curb water consumption and lower water bills.


Make-up air: The air pulled from outside the commercial kitchen to replace the air your hood takes in.

Microfiber: Very fine, lightweight polyester fiber used in woven and non-woven textiles, specifically cleaning cloths or mops designed for repeated use.


Organic: Often refers to foods and livestock that are grown without conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, sewage sludge, antibiotics or growth hormones. Also pertains to compounds derived from plants, animals or carbon.


PLA: Processed corn starch called poly-lactic acid, used to form biodegradable cups and carry-out containers.

Photovoltaic: The technology surrounding the conversion of solar energy into electricity. A photovoltaic cell, for example, is a device that converts sunlight into electricity.

Post consumer recycled content: Waste content that has been used in the consumer market and then recycled into new products.

Pre consumer recycled content: Waste content that has never been used in the consumer market, such as products from manufacturers and processes, and has been recycled to make new products.

PSM: Various vegetable starches synthesized to form plant starch material, often made from mostly potato or corn starches to form cutlery, plates and containers.


Rebate: A refund on a product or a portion of a product that has already been paid for. Many utility companies offer rebates on energy-efficient equipment to help offset the initial cost.

Renewable: A resource regenerated by the earth year after year. Renewable products are constructed from sources the planet can regenerate quickly like sugarcane plants, or products that never expire, such as sun or wind.

Retrofit: To add on or replace an original part with a high efficiency part or accessory.


Sustainable: A practice, resource or product the earth can repeatedly produce. Also, another way of saying environmentally friendly, green or ecologically responsible. See renewable.


T8 lighting: Fluorescent light with a lamp tube diameter of eight eighths of an inch, or a 1-inch diameter. Available in a variety of lengths and shapes and more energy-efficient than T12 lighting.

T12 lighting: Fluorescent light with a lamp tube diameter of twelve eighths of an inch, or a 1-1/2 inch diameter. Typically less efficient than T8 lighting.


VOCs: Volatile organic compounds, also known as carbon based molecules emitting potentially harmful gas emissions that contribute to indoor pollution. VOCs are found in paints, cleaning agents, pesticides, carpets and some indoor furnishings.


Water recovery system: Sometimes referred to as a reclaimed water or gray water system, the set-up and use for recovered water is largely situational. In the commercial kitchen, water can be captured before flowing down the drain and reused for heating purposes, steam reservoirs or cleaning tasks.

Windrow: A row of mowed material, specifically compost as in a commercial composting facility.


Yellow grease: Grease recovered directly from fryers or grease recovery devices, which keep grease cleaner and more valuable for grease handlers and biodiesel companies.


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