Hotel Food Waste is Your Business

By Pete Pearson Director of Food Waste, World Wildlife Fund | September 16, 2018

Co-authored by Samantha Kenny, Program Officer, World Wildlife Fund

When hotels adopted Energy Star technologies and implemented 'Hang Your Towel' water stewardship campaigns, they saw benefits beyond achieving environmental targets. These efforts yielded a return on investment by improving efficiency. Today, hotels are presented with a new opportunity for efficiency – food efficiency – with the potential for financial, social, and environmental benefits that far outweigh implementation costs.

It's estimated that one-third of food grown globally is thrown away.  Beyond financial losses, this is a waste of 66 trillion gallons of water, 5.4 million square miles of land, and 4.4 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of these wasted resources is compounded by staggering rates of global hunger and food insecurity.

Reducing food waste depends on shifting the way people value food. Creating this sustainable change in a hotel requires staff of varied functions to come together and think critically about the tasks they undertake every day.

Hotels have a unique opportunity to influence both public perception and a large portion of food service professionals, gaining significant business value in the process. This value is added in the form of:

  • Increased staff morale
  • Progress against a brand or property's environmental or social goals
  • Improved service to guests and clients
  • An enriched relationship with community groups
  • Better understanding of property operations
  • Reductions in operational costs
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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.