The Business Case for Reducing Food Waste

By Pete Pearson Director of Food Waste, World Wildlife Fund | April 01, 2018

For hotels, saving money can also help save the environment while enriching the guest experience. Take water, for example. By encouraging guests to reuse towels and linens, hotels reduced their laundry expenses and saved water. They also helped raise their guests' awareness of water conservation, generating good will for the hotels and spurring positive behavior change at home.

Now, in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), hotels across the country have a platform to save money by saving another critical resource: food.

Following a year-long research and demonstration project program, WWF and AHLA have rolled out a set of tools on HotelKitchen.org  to provide hotels with a step-by-step guide to reduce waste, cut costs, and enhance relationships with their staff, guests, and community.

Why is Food Waste Important?

Food is our most vital human connection to the planet. It is essential to sustain life and deeply embedded in our cultures. Yet it also takes a huge toll on the planet, more than any other human activity.

Food production accounts for 70 percent of the water that people use, 40 percent of the frost-free land we occupy, and between 25 to 30 percent of the greenhouse gases we emit. It drives loss of habitats from the Amazon rainforest to the grasslands of the United States, and it's responsible for a significant decline in wildlife population. Yet despite the amount of time and resources it takes to grow, process, manufacture, and transport food, we seem to value it less and less.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.