The hotel industry continues to pursue a food waste-free future as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Rockefeller Foundation and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) release a toolkit with strategies to help hotel properties and brands meet measurable, time-bound goals to reduce food waste. The resources are based on the results of a set of projects demonstrating innovative strategies aimed at reducing food waste in the hotel industry.
During a 12-week period, ten hotels across the country tested different waste reduction strategies, including low-waste menu planning, staff training and education and customer engagement. Overall, participating properties reduced food waste by at least 10 percent and, in some cases, lowered food costs by three percent or more after increasing measurement and engagement. These findings support case studies conducted by waste tracking technology companies, which typically show cost reduction of three to eight percent. The program results also revealed that teams achieved greater success at properties where the owners, general managers and executive staff were highly engaged.
“This project demonstrated that hotel staff can establish new approaches to cut food waste, which in turn reduces food preparation and disposal costs,” said Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste at WWF. “Collaboration and leadership by sectors like the hospitality industry allow us to implement prevention strategies and solve problems faster.”
To deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Champions 12.3, WWF and the AHLA encourage hotels to measure food waste and set reduction goals from a baseline year; establish food donation strategies and community food recovery partnerships; and set goals that ensure inedible food is diverted from landfills.
“Hotels are more committed than ever before to reducing food waste,” said Katherine Lugar, President and CEO of AHLA. “We are encouraged by the findings of the demonstration projects and are excited to be able to share the tools we have developed with our broader membership. By partnering with WWF and The Rockefeller Foundation, we can share new tools and resources to build on the success of this program and propel the industry to a new level of commitment around food waste reduction.”
The average household in the United States spends an estimated $1,500 – $2,000 a year on food they never eat. Businesses, manufacturers and farms spend $74 billion creating and transporting food that ends up in a landfill at an enormous environmental cost — wasting money, as well as land, water, energy and other limited, valuable resources.
“Worldwide, good food is going to waste rather than reaching hungry mouths and through our YieldWise initiative, we are working to harness the power of corporations to reverse this troubling trend,” said Devon Klatell, Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “This project proves that change can happen and what we learned through these demonstrations can be adapted and scaled across a variety of industries, beyond the hospitality sector. We now know that implementing proven food waste reduction strategies can reap large rewards for businesses looking to reduce their footprints, save money and drive sustainability within our food system.”
To accelerate the industry-wide uptake of food waste reduction programs, WWF, AHLA and The Rockefeller Foundation developed a toolkit that shares key findings and guiding principles as well as provides next steps to tackle food waste in the hotel industry. The toolkit stresses the value of regular training programs, outlines a sequence of practices to develop food waste prevention strategies and advises on how to collect and share data to adjust and improve performance. It also urges hotels to find ways to instill a greater value towards food in staff and guests.
“We no longer have the luxury of time. Because our food carries such a high environmental cost, avoiding waste is a win-win for both business and the planet,” said Pearson. “As these demonstration projects show, with increased hotel industry engagement, we know we can make a difference. We strongly encourage more hotel companies to participate in this valuable program and accelerate change.”