In a world where radical transformation occurs at warp speed, we’re slowly being forced to acknowledge that so much of what we once believed to be acceptable is now no longer valid. The past decade has altered society, institutions and most industries — with more change to come. What’s next on the change agenda? In two words — food waste.
The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 outlines cutting food waste in half by 2030. But, if we are to realize that objective, there’s a ton of work to be done. Consider this: one-third of all food produced in the world is never eaten, fuelling tremendous economic, social and environmental consequences. Food loss and waste is responsible for $940 billion in economic losses and eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. What makes this disconcerting is approximately 800 million people do not have enough to eat.
According to the Commission on Environmental Corporation, cited in the Toronto Star on April 3, from farm to table, almost 400 kilograms of food annually is wasted or lost per every Canadian. In fact, Canada, is one of the biggest wasters of food on the planet. On average, we throw away approximately 170 kilograms of food a year.
But a new study now proves being mindful of food waste is good for the planet and the bottom line. According to The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste: Hotels, which examined 42 hotels across 15 countries, hotels are realizing significant savings from reducing kitchen food waste. The new figures were released last month on behalf of Champions 12.3 and found for every $1 hotels invested in programs to reduce kitchen food waste, on average, hoteliers saved $7 in operating costs.
Nearly every hotel realized a positive return on its investment to reduce food waste. Within just one year, the hotels had reduced food waste from their kitchens by 21 per cent on average and more than 70 per cent of hotels had recouped their investment. Within two years, 95 per cent had recouped their investment.
Interestingly, hotels didn’t have to make a significant investment to realize savings — almost 90 per cent spent less than $20,000. But, by focusing on a food-reduction program, which entailed five action steps (1) measure the amount of food being wasted to know where to prioritize efforts, (2) engage staff, (3) re-think the buffet, (4) reduce overproduction and (5) re-purpose excess food, hotels did realize positive results.
“We need to take action right across the food chain if we’re going to halve food waste by 2030,” says Dave Lewis, Group chief executive of Tesco and chair of Champions 12.3. “This report clearly shows that reducing waste in hotels isn’t just the right thing to do. It also makes good business sense.”