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First-of-Its-Kind Methodology Provides Standard for Measuring Food Waste Across Hotel Chains

Accor, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott International collaborated with WWF and Greenview on the industry-wide waste-measurement methodology.

Food waste is a global crisis crippling our systems and contributing to negative environmental outcomes. While the hotel industry has made great strides to prevent and divert food waste and donate quality items, when possible, industry-wide waste reduction presents challenges without a standard measurement methodology in place. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and global sustainability consulting group Greenview have developed a first-of-its-kind methodology to help hotels solve this problem.

The Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology — developed in collaboration with hospitality giants including Accor, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott International — is designed to provide a common approach for the hotel industry to collect data, and measure and report waste. This methodology creates a consistent way for both chains and individual properties to set meaningful goals to reduce waste, keep it out of landfills, and track progress against those goals over time. Building on robust existing strategies to track waste and set targets, this work harmonizes methods of data collection and addresses common data gaps and challenges.

“Food waste presents major environmental and economic challenges across our global food systems, but it’s one challenge that can actually be solved – and sooner than you might think,” said Pete Pearson, global food loss and waste lead at WWF. “The hotel industry has the unique ability to implement changes that will have global impacts when it comes to managing food waste, and all waste. This new methodology has the potential to be an industry game-changer — putting the power of prevention in the hands of hotels while creating a common industry-wide method to revolutionize the way we manage and measure waste.”

WWF developed the methodology — which builds on its longstanding work with Hilton, The Rockefeller Foundation and the American Hotel and Lodging Association to tackle the industry-wide issue — with a priority to address the challenge posed by managing food waste in diverse hotel operations, and the significant opportunity this offers to increase business efficiency and make progress against social and environmental goals. In the US alone, nearly 40 percent of food waste is generated from consumer-facing businesses including restaurants and hotels. WWF views the hotel industry as an important partner in helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3, which aims to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030; and 12.5, which calls for substantial reductions in overall waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse.

The methodology was reviewed by a wide range of industry stakeholders — including WRAP, one of WWF’s strategic food loss and waste partners; and hospitality giants Caesars Entertainment, Dorint Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Radisson Hotel Group, Soneva, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts — to ensure it addresses the specific challenges faced by hotel companies large and small, and from different parts of the world. The common waste metrics and definitions will ensure that all those who follow the methodology will calculate, identify and fill gaps, and report their waste data in a comparable way.

Corporate participation has played an essential role in advancing the UN SDGs. As a truly global sector, the hotel industry is well-positioned to set sustainability targets that align with these goals but, until now, without a uniform methodology measurement system in place, hotels, especially larger multi-national brands have faced challenges. When scaled, the methodology will help develop a framework to support industry-wide benchmarking of waste.

The Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology is a valuable addition to an expanding suite of industry measurement methodologies — including the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) and Hotel Water Measurement Initiative (HWMI) tools — and lays important groundwork for an industry culture focused on improving operations and producing less waste. This uniform measurement and reporting will inform strategic action to increase profitability and efficiency while contributing to key environmental and social goals.

The development of the methodology has brought together the hotel industry around one common goal and demonstrates the enormous potential of collaborative action.

“A crucial part of any sustainability strategy is to understand your impact and monitor and report your journey towards improvement,” says Madhu Rajesh, CEO of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. “The Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology is a valuable addition to an expanding suite of industry measurement methodologies including our HCMI and HWMI. By coming together as an industry, and sharing expertise, we can develop resources that are designed for the industry context, and support every hotel to manage and improve their impact — wherever they are on their sustainability journey.”

To learn more about the Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology visit hotelkitchen.org.

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