Policymakers, organizations, and governments have already started adopting schemes and programmes which stimulate food waste management and reduction. Support from the state is important, however, the biggest effort should come from the private sector. Professionals in the hospitality sector are still being reluctant about adopting waste reduction practices. The usual questions include, from where a company should start? Is it too costly to adopt a waste reduction policy? How can food waste be avoided?

In a recent case study about the initiatives in food waste reduction in the HaFS sector, conducted by Champions 12.3 in 2018 (intergovernmental organization focused on food waste), various positive outcomes were highlighted:
  1. The average benefit-cost ratio for food waste reduction in hotel and restaurant establishments was nearly 7:1 over a 3-year time frame.

  2.  By reducing food waste, a hotel saves over 4 cents on every dollar of cost of goods sold, while restaurants more  than 2 cents.

  3. Within the first year of implementing a food waste-reduction programme, over 70% of hotels recouped their investment, while in the case of restaurants it was 76%. Within two years of implementing a program, 95% of hotels and 89% of restaurants got a return on their investment.

Moreover, a study in New Zealand has also indicated that for every $1 spent on reducing food waste, $14 worth of savings can be made!

Approaches to Waste Prevention

Institutions and researchers argue that prevention is the most important component in tackling food waste. Educating staff, menu design, optimized quantities are some of the essential components that organizations can introduce. The graph below, which can be found in Australia’s National Food Waste Strategy, identifies food waste management options in order of most to least environmentally friendly. In essence, the waste hierarchy suggests using food waste as a resource and stresses on practices encouraging waste avoidance over reuse, recycling, reprocessing, etc.

Likewise, in the new “Zero Waste” campaign of Marketing Greece, it is argued that Greek establishments should firstly focus on reducing food waste, before recycling or replacing anti-ecological materials. Having in mind that only 19% of waste is recycled in Greece, it is essential for the hospitality industry to take this issue seriously. Below are the recommended steps by Marketing Greece for reducing food waste:
  1. Reduce- menu optimization, proper evaluation of menu food, collaborating with organizations and agencies to distribute leftover meals
  2. Replace- eradicate plastic from the working environment in all departments. Focus on using sustainable materials
  3.  Recycle- introduce separate bins, establish recycle plan in each department, proper staff training

Moreover, the following graph, produced by ReFED, showcases actions that restaurants can undertake and their impact on the food waste process. It is intended to facilitate establishments in adopting solutions based on two dimensions- profitability and feasibility. Solutions are divided into three priority groups, with the priority solution in the top right box. 

Review of Good practices

Due to the wide range of tourism establishments and the different concept of services, it is difficult to come up with universal solutions for everyone, as each sector and particular businesses have their specific context and issues. However, the 4 cases below show positive initiatives in the field of food waste reduction, while also some of them highlight an effective partnership between the public and the private sector.

Dose Certa Project

The “Dose Certa” project initiated by Lipor the Intermunicipal Waste Management of Greater Porto, managed to achieve a reduction of 30% in food waste produced among restaurants and one school canteen in the city of Porto. The main aim of the initiative was to establish a right portion menu and educate clients about the issue, while the successful restaurants were awarded the “Dose Certa” certificate. 

Hyatt Regency Orlando

Following Hyatt’s 2020 Environmental Sustainability Strategy, Hyatt Regency Orlando has experimented with different ways to reduce food waste. By analysing the orders of conference attendees, the hotel has not only managed to cut its production rate by 25% and reduce the amount of leftovers and uneaten food, but the kitchen staff also managed to prepare meals and portions that meet guests’ preferences. There are two pick-ups a week where the hotel also donates all food that cannot be reused, discussions about food waste reduction policies and real-time brainstorming solutions by the kitchen staff are very common in Hyatt Regency Orlando.

Guides to reduce food waste for bars and restaurants in Spain, Germany and France.

The Spanish Hotelier Association together with Unilever has come up with a guide that recommends tips and actions which could help restaurants and bars to order, store and prepare food in a more efficient manner. In France, UMIH (the Union of Hoteliers) together with ADEME (Environment & Energy Management Agency) have developed a guide for restaurants and hotels to introduce practical steps in reducing food waste. At the same time in Germany, DEHOGA together with the Federal Environment Agency developed a food waste prevention and reduction handbook for the catering industry.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises is the first cruise company that has committed to reducing food waste by 50%, by 2020. The company focuses both on introducing technological solutions or menu redefinition to cut wastage and educating guests and crew about responsible consumption. A detailed mapping analysis on the wasted food (type, amount, reason) provided chefs with the opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Also, the partnership between the Food Bank Foundation and Costa Cruises facilitated the company to have access to international distribution networks and be able to offload and transport surplus food more efficiently.

The Rockefeller Foundation Toolkit for Food Waste- Free Events

In 2017 the Rockefeller Foundation presented a document highlighting the path to food waste-free events. Starting with raising awareness, engaging employees and building networks, companies should firstly establish substantial knowledge and support within the organization. Adopting the second stage of solutions like budgeting, menu design or recycling, would be possible only if the organization’s staff is already well prepared. The final step is to follow up, collect data and analyze the implemented procedures, and finally improve them if needed.

As noted above reduction in food waste can be beneficial for hospitality establishments in various ways, especially as a source for cost reduction and delivering environmental benefits. However, only through using a large number of data sources, technology and consultation with a wide range of stakeholders- local authorities, academia, tech, agriculture- companies in the tourism industry can come up with feasible solutions.

If you wish to know more about what initiatives are being adopted by different governments to facilitate good practices towards the reduction of food waste please check our first account on food waste management in mid-November 2019. 





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