Staff Waste

Waste Prevention – the WISE way to cut costs and carbon emissions

Waste is a major problem for hospitality because unlike other carbon emissions categories, waste is primarily driven by human behaviours and so technologies alone cannot solve the challenge. People often focus on reducing waste by looking at how best to dispose of waste i.e., to recycle. But this still traps waste within your operations and costs money! There can be a better way to cut waste from the start… waste prevention. Waste prevention is an approach where one seeks to eradicate the potential for waste throughout the hotel’s preparations and guest consumption. Waste prevention starts at the
beginning of the value chain with reconsidering what the business purchases, and correct re- use and recycling follows on. Setting targets, monitoring, and identifying trends on how to improve drives continuous improvement and helps you achieve more using fewer inputs and creating less waste.

Food waste in particular (but not exclusively)

In this article, I am going to concentrate on food waste which is the largest waste area in hospitality (though these principles can be applied to any waste stream). A study by WRAP from 35 hotels found that food waste accounted for 37% of total waste (paper 18%, glass 10%, plastic film 8%, cardboard 7%, plastic 7%, others 12%). What makes food waste even more important is that with food waste one throws out cost and carbon. The costs are not just for the purchasing. Typically, food waste costs can be broken down as 62% food purchase, 26% labour, 7% energy and 5% other. WRAP reported that 35% of food was wasted in hospitality in the UK. As F&B can account for a 1/3 of revenue you can see waste prevention dramatically make big bottom-line savings. But waste prevention also significantly reduces
your carbon emissions liabilities as food thrown to landfill becomes methane emission, which are 22 times more potent as a GHG. So, for every 1 kg of food sent to landfill your carbon liability would be 22 kg CO2-e (the equivalent in emissions from methane) – clearly not a good thing for our company’s environmental legacy.

Six areas to focus on

A WISE approach is to identify waste prevention potentials at your hotel and by considering
these six areas:

  1. Consider the service offer and what is required
  2. Produce procurement
  3. Product deliveries
  4. Product use – back of house
  5. Product use – front of house
  6. Product disposaL

Consider who buys the products, what form the products enter the property, what resources are embedded within the food (e.g. high levels of water, land use, transportation), who uses them and how they are disposed. How can these be improved? Think about how these ideas can be meshed together more effectively to give guests a better experience. Remember sustainability is not about giving our paying customers less, but actually to release the potential of a more effectively run operation to create better experiences that our guests want and are prepared to perhaps even pay more for. When discussing these points with the team, ask where are these foods being sourced from; can locally source foods and seasonality give the dining experience a point of difference and is this more unique and appealing; what are the amounts of waste generated by different foods e.g., compare the waste and labour costs in preparation between pineapples and strawberries; how can you reduce spoilage with linking forward menu planning to occupancy and events; are buffets really a better idea, if so then how can you better time the replacement and refills of buffet displays with traffic flow; can you reduce plate size; how can you successfully engage guests to motivate minimising plate waste?

Systematic approach to reducing waste

AWISE way to drive improvement is to apply our following systematic approach. First, audit your food waste (or any other waste types you want to prevent). Take a look each day for a week and note what is being thrown away, composed or recycled. Repeat this over six months.
Second, set yourself a baseline that reports the details of your waste streams. Include here
the total waste, convert to carbon and waste per cover.

Guided by your baseline, now look at what you are actually buying. How can you change what
you buy so it better matches what we use that helps us maximise the benefits of waste minimization.

Now you can start to look at what we can do with the resulting waste. In many ways this can enable you to consider how you can better contribute to help your community… this applies to not only passing over edible food but also items like sheets which are perfectly serviceable for a household but not to the standard you require for your accommodation. Making donations to the community is a sound strategy to help deliver your other social sustainability goals.

There are two ways to set targets. One is to look at what is being disposed of and set a % target saving figure, or you can set a baseline which sets procurement targets to only purchase certain quantities (these should also be included in your environmental statement and improvements used to update the policy).

Fifthly, you develop an action plan that stimulates that change in behaviour, either by guest or staff. Include calculated savings. Next is to train staff; this is a key component and requires staff to have a holistic understanding of what you are seeking to achieve. They need to understand the plan not
simply from an environment or cost level, but to see how their role will make a genuine difference.

Now you monitor the effectiveness of your plan and compare with your original audit and baseline. Revise where required to drive continuous improvements. Remember, insights power progress.

The WISE solution awaits

You will want to continuously drive costs and carbon down for waste. Our software solution, My Green Butler [], provides waste monitoring, goal setting, and success showcasing for food waste, recycling, and landfill.

We input the baseline, set targets, and list the action plan in a task management system for all staff. Teams are trained in sustainable practices and awareness on a gamified, eLearning platform and are empowered and organised through our task system which has been designed specifically for the cyclical nature of hospitality. Our service monitors the effectiveness, and includes guest engagement through a web app so they can see the impacts and the benefits of making a better choice in real time. We can even add a carbon footprint to dishes on your menu.

WISE Sustainability assists through stimulating innovation by running workshops in determining who buys the products, what form the products enter the property, what resources are embedded within the food (e.g., high levels of water, land use, transportation), who uses them and how they are disposed. We ask the questions and create opportunities to be innovative and improve margins whilst reducing cost and carbon.

Book an introduction now to learn more about the waste management and systems thinking
sustainability services we offer


Christopher Warren

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *