As reported on Green Lodging News, Hilton just announced the expansion of its food donation initiative to all its 300 managed hotels across the United States and Canada. The company expects to donate nearly 100 tons of food over the next year—enough to feed more than 160,000 people—while also diverting millions of pounds of food waste from landfills. As part of its Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals, Hilton is aiming to reduce food waste by 50 percent (baseline year 2017).
According to Hilton, approximately one-third of food is wasted worldwide, yet global food insecurity remains endemic. It is estimated that more than 41 million Americans, including 13 million children, currently suffer from food insecurity. Meanwhile, most food waste ends up in landfills where it produces nearly 10 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute significantly to climate change.
“Food waste is a significant environmental and social problem,” Hilton’s Caitrin O’Brien told Green Lodging News, adding that up to 40 percent of waste at a full-service hotel can be food waste. O’Brien is Hilton’s Senior Manager, Corporate Sustainability. A significant chunk of food waste is generated in catering and banquets. O’Brien says hotels serve $35 billion in catering and banquets annually.
Each Hotel Will Have 2020 Goals
Hilton is encouraging its 300 managed hotels in the United States and Canada to partner with local food rescue organizations to feed the hungry in their immediate communities. Each hotel will set a food waste diversion and donation goal for 2020 and report their progress. Hotel teams will be able to select organizations to work with from a directory of food donation and diversion partners from across the country, as well as connect with one another to share best practices.
Much of the reporting and communication will happen through Hilton’s cloud-based corporate responsibility management system, LightStay. All properties are required to use LightStay to measure their environmental and social impact. So far this year, Hilton hotels in the Americas have diverted more than 6 million pounds of food waste from landfills, an equivalent of more than 11,000 MT of carbon emissions.
O’Brien says Hilton managed hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa will be targeted next for food donation programs. Meanwhile, Hilton is encouraging its franchised hotels to join in on the food donation and food waste reduction initiatives.
Partnership with World Wildlife Fund
Working with its environmental partner, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Hilton undertook pilots at 50 hotels around the world to better understand food waste reduction challenges and opportunities in the hospitality industry. The pilots resulted in several innovations in Hilton hotels, from “no-waste” catering menus to thoughtfully designed buffet presentations.
“The simple act of measuring and understanding food waste can have a significant impact,” O’Brien says. “Nobody wants to waste food.”
One hotel, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, saw a 50 percent drop in food waste by weight in five months by simply using a food waste tracking system. Using a similar system, the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah reduced its food waste by 70 percent. Buffets are notorious for food waste but the Embassy Suites by Hilton Portland Washington Square reduced buffet food waste by reducing plate size, reorganizing the design of its buffet, and including guest-facing messaging.
In another case, the Washington Hilton worked with WWF to figure out how to use 100 percent of an ingredient.
O’Brien says the simple step of getting team members to be thinking about food waste is important. “Changing hearts and minds will have the biggest impact,” she says.
Those hotels that excel in reducing food waste will be highlighted and celebrated. “The top performers will be recognized at events, in LightStay, and using our other internal communications channels,” O’Brien says. “We are always looking for ways to celebrate.”
To learn more about Hilton’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy and 2030 Goals, visit cr.hilton.com.
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