The hospitality sector generates a significant amount of food waste. This waste can occur at various stages of the food supply chain, from overproduction and overbuying of ingredients, to improper storage and preparation techniques, to plate waste from customers. This not only has a negative environmental impact, but it also represents a financial loss for businesses. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of this issue and efforts to reduce food waste in the hospitality sector, through implementing practices such as composting, reducing portion sizes, and redistributing surplus food to those in need. What kind of circular strategies can support the reduction of food waste in hospitality?
On 1st February 2023, the European project CENTOUR invited two professionals from the sector to present and reflect on food waste strategies.
First, Erwan Mouazan, Circular Economy facilitator at Ecores, Belgium, introduced the CENTOUR project, a three-year EU-founded initiative that started in September 2020. CENTOUR aims to accelerate the uptake of sustainable and circular solutions of SMEs in the tourism sector, by developing new skills through a capacity building programme. On the website’s project, circulartourism.eu, practical handbooks, a best practices database, free online courses, a forum…are freely available to acquire new knowledge on circularity in the tourism industry. The second aim of the project is to develop local ecosystems of sustainable and circular tourism SMEs. In the 5 countries where the project is active (Italy, Greece, Moldova, North Macedonia, Spain,), Circular Economy facilitators are coaching and training no less than 65 local SMES to support them on implementing circular strategies.
Carlos Henriques, founder and chef from MICHELIN Green Star Restaurant Nolla in Helsinki (Finland), told us about his approach to sustainability and the practical measures he has implemented in his restaurant. The idea of Nolla was born out of the desire to make the restaurant industry more sustainable and to show that creative and great food can go hand in hand with sustainability. Taking a planet-people-product-profit perspective, Carlos highlighted the need to share the same mindset among the staff to actively start tackling food waste. Using see-through bins combined with a thorough weighing and monitoring process, the restaurant has been able to target the right actions to decrease the amount of waste generated. Composting solutions are key to circle food waste back to the network of local food suppliers Nolla is working with.
Anne Cassagnabere, from French agency Hubency, explained the participants how the organisation has been supporting professionals from the industry in tackling their waste.
She reminded us that in the EU, nearly 57 million tonnes of food waste (127kg/inhabitant) are generated annually with an associated market value estimated at 130 billion euros.
These environmental challenges will need concrete actions by the industry, as by 31st December 2023 at the latest, all EU Member States must ensure that, biowaste is collected separately or recycled at the source. Methanisation and composting are two key strategies to be assessed to make sure food waste is given a second life. The choice of the final option will depend on the amount and type of waste generated and the existing supporting local infrastructure. Beyond the choice of technological solutions, active monitoring of waste, and awareness raising among the staff are two key actions to start with.