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The NRA Show 2010 Conserve Solutions Center offered several sustainable solutions for foodservice providers, but perhaps none had the "wow" factor of the 30-day-old Thrust Eco-Delivery Electric Bikes, a practical solution that combines the accessibility of bike delivery with the branding aspects associated with the mobile truck trend.
Thrust bikes were developed specifically for food delivery, and have been in testing phases with brands like California Pizza Kitchen and zpizza. They have double the motor power and Lithium battery capacity of consumer e-bikes: a single battery can last for 20 miles, go up to 20 miles per hour and have 7.7 cubic feet of storage space to hold delivery items like extra-large pizzas, salad and food dishes and drinks, with extra storage space for food. This summer the company plans to offer attachable trailers for more food storage.
The bikes are also advantageous to quick-service or fast casual restaurants with a younger workforce, as they do not require drivers to have auto insurance. Bike operators can also drive on spaces like sidewalks and bike lanes; the Federal Government recognizes the product as a bike, even though it is motorized. The motorized aspect also provides a "wow" factor that helps play into the food truck frenzy. Chains are also able to brand their "vehicles" with magnetized logos that the Thrust company provides.
Other highlights from the Conserve Solutions Center included the NRA's new Greener Restaurants program, which allows restaurants to track their progress along a handful of green and sustainable practices, including energy efficiency, water conservation, building/construction, waste reduction, and administration. The program also includes estimations on approximate times of ROI, and an area for restaurants to report their own energy-saving innovations not already listed.
The Green Restaurant Association also had an area of GRA-sanctioned products, including the Vegawatt product that converts used fry oil into electricity for restaurants. The turnkey solution can generate 10 to 20 percent of a restaurant's power, depending on a location's size, energy usage, and cooking methods. Company founders say they are first to market with the technology, and that there are no byproducts generated in turning the oil into fuel.