According to Wrap, two million tonnes of waste is generated by the UK’s hospitality industry annually, so what are they doing to combat this issue?
Waste has been a huge point of conversation across mainstream news and social media channels in the recent years — with pictures of the ocean suffocated by a churning blanket of plastic and rubbish and landfills scarring the countryside. Notoriously, food is being thrown out by everyone from big chain hotels to the average household.
What measures are being taken to combat the issue? We asked Reconomy, to investigate the various processes that are being implemented throughout the hospitality sector to tackle waste heading to the landfill.
- Hotels — produce 289,700 tonne of waste each year, including 79,000 tonnes of food waste (9% total food waste from the sector).
- Pubs — produce 873,800 tonnes of waste each year, including 173,000 tonnes of food waste (19% total food waste from the sector).
- Restaurants — produce 915,400 tonnes of waste each year, including 199,100 tonnes of food waste (22% total food waste from the sector).
- Other hospitality sectors’ food waste contributions: quick service restaurants (8.3%), staff catering (2%), leisure (7%), services (3%), healthcare (13%) and education (13%).
However, it’s important to understand that the food waste problem isn’t only an epidemic in the UK. The National reported on the issue of food waste in Dubai, with the problem being particularly fuelled by hotels and restaurants wasting ingredients on over-the-top portions.
Research has also found that large supermarkets in Egypt are facing a detrimental problem; with 20% of produce being wasted due to storage problems. The news outlet also reported that, like in Dubai, the issue of food wastage from hotels and restaurants is also particularly problematic in Egypt. Buffet-style offerings can reuse and recycle food not taken, but many customers “have the habit of piling their plates”, says Egyptian Food Bank CEO, Moez El Shohdi. Anything uneaten on the plate goes in the bin.
Major pub chain, JD Wetherspoons has teamed up with FareShare who collects surplus food for redistribution. SHD Logistics reported on the matter, saying that the food donated by the pub chain is surplus after a recent menu shake-up, or food that has had its outer cases damaged. While not problematic for the food itself, it isn’t cost-effective to make it commercial-viable again.
The reuse of food is becoming a more popular thought for many more businesses across the hospitality sector too. The Real Junk Food Project is a UK-based global movement with the goal to “abolish surplus food. This is achieved by intercepting food waste from a variety of places, such as hotels and restaurants, and using it as ingredient to prepare and serve in its many cafés and pop-up stalls across the country. The Real Junk Food Project also runs a “Pay As You Feel” scheme – basically, you pay what you want. You can part with your money, or your time by helping as a volunteer if you want to. The aim is to make sure everyone has access to a meal, which everyone could, if this usable food doesn’t go to landfill.
As well as this, it’s becoming a more popular scheme across the world; with countries like New Zealand and Australia adopting the initiative. Nic Loosely, opened Everybody Eats and guests can enjoy a three-course meal with food that would have only went to the landfill. The food would only have gone to waste otherwise and is better used to help feed those who might not be able to enjoy a meal otherwise. According to Loosely, around a third of people do leave money for the meals.
It’s important that businesses begin to support their wider community, and this is something hotels and restaurants can do easily with local farms. Forbes revealed some of the ways the eco-hotel and spa, Six Senses, maintains luxury with sustainability. From villas built to stay cool, to air conditioning that turns off if the doors are opened, Six Senses have thought of everything when it comes to embracing balance.
The hotel can grow its own produce for the kitchen too. The garden is tended to without synthetic chemicals and is fed with recycled water. Any hotel or restaurant with the capacity to do so should look into planting a garden for its kitchen use, even if it is just a small herb garden – any small change can reduce the need potentially over-purchase from a supplier.
On top of this, the hotel deals with its own water and use reusable glass bottles. The company actually treats, purifies, and mineralises its own water!
Removing plastic waste in the hospitality sector
In one study by BRITA UK, it was noted that 70% of businesses are currently looking to cut down on single-use plastics, like straws and water bottles. Plus, 64% of consumers said they would likely return to a shop with the intent of making a purchase, if they could refill their water bottle.
“[There is a] need to help turn the harmful tide of plastic waste and little from single-use plastic bottles,” she said, “which is damaging the marine environment and blighting our streets.” says Martha Wardrop, Green councillor, when she spoke to the Evening Times.
Wardrop also commented that hospitality businesses could offer free drinking water and sign up to the Refill initiative.
Plastic bottles isn’t the only elimination mission for hotels. USAToday revealed steps a number of hotels are taking in an active attempt to lower the use of plastic. From the Hilton vowing to remove all plastic straws from its hotels by the end of 2018, to the Marriott replacing the individually offered toiletries with reusable dispensers, no one is resting on their laurels. Taking a look at airlines, United Airlines recycled 13 million pounds of plastic and other materials in 2016, and Alaska Airlines are currently in the process of replacing plastic stirring sticks with white birch stirrers. Over in the fast food sector, McDonald’s have chosen to remove plastic straws from use at their restaurants.
Could you replace them with a plastic-free alternative? Businesses should always be looking at alternatives.
According to the same report discussed earlier, 40% of hospitality businesses are looking to become more sufficient. If you are one of these businesses, reach out to Reconomy for advice. Could you offer water refills, or switch out plastic single-use bottles to alternatives? What can you do today to avoid leaving a mark on landfills?