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Hospitality Food Waste Reduction Pilot Project Results Released

food waste reduction pilot projects hospitality hotels
Credit: Claudia Viloria

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has released the results from a 12-week series of food waste reduction pilot projects. At the same time, the association published a toolkit aimed at helping properties and brands meet their goals to combat food waste.

Hotel properties that included a mix of full-service branded hotels and independent operations participated in the nationwide projects, the AHLA says. The program launched in March with brand participation from Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, Sage Hospitality, and Terranea Resort. The association also worked with the World Wildlife Fund and received support from the Rockefeller Foundation for the program.

Pilot projects involved measuring food waste outputs on a regular basis, tracking employee training programs, creating menus designed to limit food waste, and raising awareness with their customers, according to the AHLA.

“Overall, participating properties reduced food waste at least 10% and in some cases properties lowered food costs by 3% or more after increasing measurement and engagement,” the AHLA said in a press release. “These findings support case studies conducted by waste tracking technology companies, which typically show cost reduction of 3 to 8%. The program results also revealed that teams achieved greater success at properties where the owners, general managers, and executive staff were highly engaged.”

Currently, businesses, manufacturers, and farms spend $74 billion creating and transporting food that ends up in landfills, the association says. Food waste reduction is a particular challenge in the hospitality industry, Hilton’s Max Verstraete told Environmental Leader recently.

“When you’re talking to meeting planners, one of the worst nightmares for them is that a client’s event runs out of food,” he says. “Third-party meeting planners might be over-ordering.”

Key recommendations from the AHLA’s program:

  • Measure food waste and set reduction goals from a baseline year
  • Establish food donation strategies and community food recovery partnerships
  • Set goals that ensure inedible food waste from hotels is diverted away from landfills

In addition to the recommendations, the AHLA published a hotel kitchen toolkit customized by role. Hospitality businesses that work toward food waste reduction at their properties can save money, empower staff to take action, and meet customer demand, the association says.

“Implementing a food waste strategy includes staff training time and separation and measurement tactics,” the AHLA’s toolkit site advises. “You can also invest in advanced food waste tracking technologies, which have higher upfront costs but have proven to provide up to a 50% reduction in food waste, with cost savings in the tens of thousands at some full-service hotels.”

We are accepting submissions for the 2018 Environmental Leader Awards. The final deadline is December 15, 2017. Learn more here.

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