Food waste is a world-scale scandal that cannot be hidden anymore. For the hospitality industry, it goes in total contradiction to the business logic. Throwing food reduces the benefit margin and belittles the industry’s product hence corrupting their image.
“The big deal about waste in the hospitality is that every guest produces one kilogram of waste per night. If this waste is poorly managed, it threatens our health and is expensive to dispose,” James Gathange, Chemical Engineer at Cygnus Safety Consulting said in a webinar convened on Thursday by Green Key Kenya.
Gathange says that the economic cost of waste is beyond what we pay the garbage collectors. “On average, the true cost of wasted materials is about ten times the cost of disposal.”
He further explained that in restaurants, up to eighty percent of waste is organic and within the control of the restaurant owners and managers. In his presentation, food preparation accounts for forty-five percent of the waste, spoilage accounts for twenty-one while customer’s plate accounts for thirty-four percent. All these, he says is manageable.
Wasting food means all the agricultural inputs like fertilizers, irrigation water and energy go to waste right along with it. These wasted inputs contribute to environmental problems like greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, Gathange explained.
“Food waste represents massive amounts of money and needless environmental impact of waste resources,” Gathange said. “The new normal calls for rethinking on how we condense our food to reduce food waste.”
To optimize waste management, Gathange said we must first know how much we are wasting, where this waste is produced and the reasons.
“An auditing process will help unravel the threads of your waste streams and help develop an action plan,” Gathange explained. “We can only control what we have measured.”
If you cannot do it by yourself, you can always take advice from an expert.
Waste can be generated at any part of the supply chain. In his discussions, Gathange advises businesses to engage all employees in developing new strategies to avoid food waste. “Businesses should set a strategy to minimize waste production and keep monthly statistics on waste and recycling.”
Menu planning and Service
Restaurant owners and managers can redesign their menu, portion choices and customize their dishes to ensure no food goes to waste.
Procurement and supply chain management
An underlying driver occurring during one stage of the food supply chain may result in the actual food loss and waste occurring at a different stage
There is need to ensure a circular supply chain from the point of source to a customer’s plate.
Communicate your initiative
Being environmentally supportive and respectful brings social benefits that your customers might appreciate. Spreading the word of your actions will boost the achievement of this goal.
Changing habits saves money, but it could also save lives. Conrad notes that waste is expensive and it represents throwing money in the bin. He further added that, the waste generated is detrimental to both our health and our planet.
Business Benefits of Reducing Food Waste
Research shows companies that are effective at addressing societal challenges like food waste can see margins up to 3.3 percentage points higher than others. Businesses working to reduce food waste also could see their costs come down due to greater supply-chain efficiency.
In addition, new revenue streams can be found by transforming wasted food and by-products into new products. For example, one company is buying used cooking oil and converting it to more sustainable and renewable products -biodiesel. Other companies are repurposing leftover food into animal feeds and recycling up to ninety-five percent of the waste.
In the end, it is nothing but finding out the waste produced by your business, designing an action plan to minimize and adding a different value to those which are inevitably produced.
Read also: Nearly all Liberians cannot afford a $6 square meal