LightBlue Environmental Consulting (LBEC) and Travel Without Plastic (TWP) have joined forces to tackle the two single biggest waste streams in hotels—food waste and single use plastic. Led by long-term sustainability professionals, both organizations originally set out with wider objectives in mind but narrowed down their focus into specific problem areas, guaranteeing the most robust possible service for hotels looking to tackle two of this decade’s increasingly important topics.
Aware that solving one problem should not cause another, both organizations champion a reduction in overall waste and their respective recommendations to businesses ensure that the wider picture is considered before any operational changes are made.
Habit is the biggest challenge for both organizations, compounded by today’s hectic on-the-go lifestyles. Hotels where guests would normally sit down for breakfast now offer to-go cafes, fueled by single use packaging that caters for city breakers and business clients who are rushing out to the office.
Over the past 6 years, LBEC has consistently measured that up to 50 percent of all food purchased in volume never makes it to the buffet or the restaurant table. “Pre-consumer food waste is composed of roughly 40 percent of non-edible items, and the remainder is related to inefficient storage systems, unskilled trimming, overstocking or over production. Kitchen waste is generally given less attention when discussing food waste, while buffet waste is commonly mistaken as the biggest source of food waste,” says Benjamin Lephilibert, Managing Director of LightBlue.
Plastic is a Bad Habit
In a similar scenario, TWP found that an average of 15 percent of single use plastic is often purchased purely out of habit, with no regard for whether the product adds any value to the guest experience. Where hotels are invested in positive change, up to 68 percent of single use plastic waste can be reduced by following effective recommendations and implementing innovative communications that encourage guests to be part of the solution.
Both approaches can create significant cost savings; when environmental concerns are not the main motivator the bottom line usually triggers action.
Having travelled towards waste reduction goals for several years, the paths of both organizations eventually crossed making logical sense for a collaborative approach. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world (1.3 billion tons) for human consumption is wasted and around 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year, half of which is for single use. Jo Hendrickx, CEO of Travel Without Plastic comments, “We take our own responsibility to reducing waste seriously, but we can make an even bigger impact by helping businesses to do the same.”
“Combining our approach makes it easier for hospitality businesses to tackle both issues at the same time without becoming overwhelmed by the challenge,” Lephilibert agrees. “Both businesses operate globally and can offer on-site and off-site support to hotels and other hospitality businesses interested in being part of the solution. The ideal next step would be to engage a number of hotels in Asia and Europe who are happy to lead by example and introduce a multi-tasking approach to both waste streams, potentially generating huge savings in terms of waste reduction and costs.