How to Mitigate Food Waste
Consumers are a catalyst for hotels, resorts, and restaurants to rethink how they use food resources.
Imagine this scenario: A guest has enjoyed a full day of hiking, swimming, lounging, napping, and, most important, working up an appetite. Fortunately, they have a reservation at the hot Mexican-Chinese fusion restaurant that just opened on your property.
A platter of three tacos with wok-seared scallops served in lettuce wraps is ready to be placed in front of your guest—but stop. Before you set down the dish, throw one taco away. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year on a global scale. According to the Waste and Resource Action Program (WRAP), hotels worldwide produce 79,000 tons of food waste each year.
And consumers, travelers included, are noticing. Competitive cooking shows regularly include challenges to reuse leftover ingredients, for example, and a number of consumer brands and restaurants are touting their commitment to reducing waste. “Consumer awareness of food waste has been on the rise for the past several years,” says Meghan Stasz, senior director of sustainability at Grocery Manufacturers. “Many consumers are asking about a business’s approach to food waste in a variety of circumstances, from where they buy their groceries to restaurants to hotels.”
Stasz notes that the World Wildlife Fund and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, have launched programs such as Hotel Kitchen to help participating hotels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s tips for combating food waste for businesses include being smart about wholesale ordering, well-thought-out menu planning, and developing strategies for repurposing ingredients.
It’s important for restaurants and commercial properties to keep the business reason top of mind—it’s only common sense that cutting food waste saves money—but donating unused ingredients and prepared food also lets owners and guests know your resort cares about the surrounding community. “On the positive side, the U.S. is unique in that we have federal-level liability protections for companies that donate food to those in need,” Stasz says. “Those protections, coupled with tax credits, are highly effective in encouraging companies to donate food and are a major strength of the food-donation system here in the U.S.”
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