The hotel sector has the opportunity to be more resource-efficient – which will benefit their business, customer service and the environment, says Cromwell Polythene managing director, James Lee.
Food waste is a key issue for the hotel sector, with figures from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) indicating it amounts to 41% of the waste from hotels, pubs, restaurants, and quick service restaurants. This costs the UK hospitality and food service sector over £2.5 billion a year, which has a detrimental impact both on a hotel’s operational costs and on the environment too.
A new report co-authored by (WRAP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) finds a compelling business case for preventing food waste in the catering industry. The report indicates 64% of caterers who invested in reducing food waste had recouped their costs in the first year. Of 86 sites across six countries evaluated, food waste was reduced by 36% on average in the space of twelve months.
The hospitality and food service (HaFS) sector is working hard to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal: to halve global food waste by 2030. In the UK, many in the hotel sector have signed up to Courtauld 2025, a voluntary agreement to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable.
Research from WRAP indicates that, on average, 21% of food waste in the HaFS sector arises from spoilage; 45% from food preparation; and 34% from customer plates. Practical steps that hotels can take to reduce waste includes investment in measuring technology, staff training, careful menu planning and accurate portion control.
Separating materials for recycling
When food is wasted, we are not only throwing away good ingredients, we are wasting the resources and energy that are used to grow, harvest, process, and transport through the supply chain all the way to the consumer, along with the associated emissions. Studies have shown that GHG emissions associated with a steak purchase from a supermarket are 7500g for the steak, and just 80g for the packaging.
Polythene food grade bags can help the hotel sector improve portion control and storage of food to avoid spoilage. Look for grip seal bags which are re-sealable, re-usable, and recyclable. Contrary to popular belief, plastics have a very resource-efficient profile – particularly those produced from recycled materials. The environmental costs of using plastics in packaging are nearly four times lower than if plastics were replaced by alternative materials over the full life cycle. However, the real damage is caused by littering; ineffective waste management processes; and sending plastics to landfill, which is a waste of resources. Crucially, responsibly produced plastics can be recycled effectively and efficiently, or used to generate energy from waste (EFW) at the end of their useful life.
To avoid contamination of materials and make the process of recycling simpler, restaurants, hotels, pubs, cafés and takeaways also need to have an effective waste segregation policy to separate out their food waste for recycling. In Scotland, regulation is already in place that requires non-rural businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste per week to segregate the material separately for collection under 2016 updates to the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. All Welsh Councils offer separate food waste collections to help consumers recycle more.
Separating out different materials for recycling also helps hotels to see and measure the amount of waste being generated. This can help to determine how much it costs the hotel and provides the opportunity to identify the root causes of waste and opportunities to reduce it.
Steps to success
Look for suppliers which offer a suitable range of products to help you manage and improve your food recycling collections, such as compostable caddy liners in a variety of sizes. Food liners should meet the stringent criteria of the European composting standard, EN13432, which requires more than 90% of the plastic mass to be converted into biomass, CO2 and water, without harmful residue.
Taking robust steps to prevent food waste offers the HaFS sector a real opportunity to make financial and environmental savings, whilst providing the best possible service to their customers.
Cromwell Polythene is a supplier of recycling and compostable solutions to the hotel and hospitality sectors through its strategic partnerships with major sector specific suppliers. Where applicable these solutions are accredited by the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA).