Kitchen waste is a key issue for the hotel sector, with food waste representing a cost to the hotel industry of £318 million each year.
One of the main challenges in a busy hotel kitchen is finding the time to separate food waste from other waste. Another issue is adequate space hoteliers have for their waste. In most large hotel buildings, as much space as possible is allocated to front-of-house areas such as the reception, lobby, restaurant and banqueting facilities and of course kitchen space – particularly in high rent urban centres, which leaves minimal space inside and out for adequate waste bins and separation facilities. However, space saving solutions and advice from good suppliers is available.
Environmental factors that hotels need to consider
Where will the food waste end up? In a hole in the ground (landfill) or will it be used to make energy in a biomass facility?
We are all familiar with the sign in the bathroom asking guests to consider using a towel for the second day to save the environment. Many of us ethically support this and at the same time save the hotel industry money. I would argue that there is a real opportunity for the hotel industry to widely implement an effective strategy with separate food waste collections. We, at 707, work to deliver an effective solution for large hotel groups across the UK, and if done right, the waste and recycling does not have to cost the earth. Many waste providers will work to accommodate different space and location issues across a group, as not all sites are of course the same.
The other benefit to consider is, like our bathroom towel notices, the positive PR of doing the right thing and telling your guests can not be underestimated. A hotel chain could, for example, illustrate that by effective waste collections they could run one hotel in the group for a year – powerful stuff.
How to reduce cost
Hoteliers need to start from the bottom – it makes good business sense to create as little as possible food waste in the first place; and waste elimination at source needs to be a hoteliers main priority.
It can be argued that two-thirds of the food that is thrown away by the hospitality industry could have been eaten if it had been better portioned, managed, stored and prepared. Hotels don’t have to make drastic changes to their business to reduce food waste and ultimately reduce costs; small but key changes are the way to do this. For example, controlling portion sizes, reviewing stock management and food delivery processes for food items with a short shelf life and training staff so they are aware of the hotels recycling policy are all effective.
Where food waste is unavoidable, a separate recycling collection enables the waste to be captured and sent for anaerobic digestion, where energy can be removed. With UK hospitality businesses paying around £1.02 billion a year to buy all the food that is wasted, anaerobic digestion could potentially save businesses £6.6 million a year. This is typically a cheaper option than landfill – where a large proportion of this food waste currently goes – with it currently being around £11 cheaper per tonne to dispose of.
707 believe that effective waste and recycling management doesn’t have to cost the earth. With hoteliers taking up a large proportion of those industries producing food waste, we could see a step change in the national waste figures. If every hotelier took these small steps to improve their business and their costs, we could certainly improve the amount of food and other recyclable materials diverted from landfill in the UK.
Improving Kitchen Waste Management in general
Separate clearly labelled bins are the most effective choice for food waste in the kitchen. They will allow staff to easily distinguish which bin is for what type of product, avoiding confusion and contaminated waste. It is a simple measure, but effective if given consideration and implementation by management.
Continuing to ensure kitchens are run in the most waste-efficient way
In our experience it is about balancing policy and motivation to do the right thing. Some simple ideas to launch a scheme and make sure it becomes a habit could include:
- Start an environmental employee of the month/week scheme – the most environmentally friendly employee that recycles and reuses gets a day off
- Consider waste implications at the menu planning stage – what type of waste will be produced and how will it be segregated
- Review menus – hoteliers could rethink their menu options, having options for smaller portions to create less food waste, allowing diners to be able to pick and choose what they want on their plate (e.g. being able to make substitutes), offer re-useable bottles and buy re-usable condiment bottles.