For restaurants, menus are the lifeblood of business operations. Some restaurants feature the same menu from the first day the door opened for business. Others change their menus on a weekly basis as customers request new culinary creations. The restaurant industry is also volatile with many restaurants changing owners several times in the course of one or two years. Menu changes result from changes in culinary creations, ownership or management and seasonal availability of staple food items on the menu.

Each menu change requires a new supply of paper. That paper supply comes from a selection of trees that are cut down and undergo the harvesting process to turn the bark into paper. There is a significant amount of time, energy and money that goes into the tree harvesting process. At the heart of the process are trees which are a non-renewable resource.

When the supply of trees disappear, there is no more means of replacement. It significantly reduces the available opportunities for a steady supply of paper. That is a cause for concern for the restaurant industry. It will require restaurants to become creative on how they print menus for their establishments. The industry does not just rely on paper for the printing of menus.

Several ordering systems have a paper base as well, such as ordering by fax and telephone orders.

Each of these ordering systems requires paper to take a customer order and send it to the kitchen. On a busy night, a restaurant can easily go through several reams of paper to keep up with the amount of customer orders that come in over the phone or fax machine. These ordering systems also require human interaction with paper to keep up with customers orders. There is the potential for errors to occur as a staff member transfers the order over from the initial piece of paper into the kitchen ordering system.

A kitchen staff member can misunderstand handwriting, which results in an incorrect order going to the customer. A staff member will then have to write the order down once again on a piece of paper. That paper then goes to the kitchen for order fulfillment. Finally, the customer receives a paper receipt showing payment and other details. It is easy to see how one customer order taken by a phone call or fax machine in a restaurant requires the use of several pieces of paper to reach completion.

As the traditional ordering cycle continues, our environment loses more trees to the harvesting process. Eventually the trees will be in short supply and the absence of paper will require restaurants to develop new ordering systems for take-out and delivery orders clients place with the restaurant establishment. Modern technology is already providing restaurants with alternative methods to paper print menus.