Targeting zero food waste in the hospitality industry

Targeting zero food waste in the hospitality industry


Paul Newnham, executive director at SDG2 Advocacy Hub, explains why creating a sustainable food system is a win-win all round.

Sustainability. Food loss. Food waste. These aren’t just buzzwords we hear now in mainstream discourse – rather, they are important issues that affect the lives of millions of people and our planet. And they should be taken seriously.

The cost of any food goes well beyond what you pay and what is lost when you waste it. If you look across the entire food system and how food reaches your plate, you’ll see costs – nature, labor, energy and financial – related to the farm work that went into producing it, the toiled land, the CO2 emitted, the packaging used and much more. All to reach the eater.

Facing the facts and figures

The stakes are high and the facts speak for themselves. One-third of the world’s food is wasted; that’s over 1 billion tons of food per year, which is enough to end world hunger four times over. The UN Environment Programme has estimated that 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed. Meanwhile, nearly 828 million people are food insecure, 3.1 billion don’t have access to a healthy diet and a global climate crisis threatens the ability of our planet to grow food. With the world’s population estimated to climb to nearly 10 billion by 2050, food waste is not a luxury we can afford.

Knock-on benefits

The anticipated benefits of addressing food waste are significant, ranging from overall improvements in global food security to positive impacts on our environment. By reducing food waste, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, slow environmental degradation and nature loss, improve food availability and distribution, and save money. The positive impact would be experienced by not only nations and governments, but also businesses, communities and individuals.

The hospitality sector, whose contribution to food waste is at least 12 percent, according to recent research, has a big role to play, which it can do by working toward food waste prevention, mitigation and management.

Chefs blazing trails

The good news is that today we have many of the tools we need to implement more sustainable practices to avoid food waste and loss in establishments.

Through the Chefs’ Manifesto, a chef-led project that brings together more than 1,000 chefs to explore how they can help deliver a sustainable food system, many pioneers are leading by example. Conor Spacey, through FoodSpace Ireland, has transformed the way producers and F&B companies package and store food, by implementing a zero waste policy and strong sustainability criteria. His book ‘Wasted’ also shares how to run
a completely waste-free kitchen. Chef Sohini Banerjee runs-zero waste supper clubs, educating diners on using the whole ingredient. Chef Giselle started Cream of the Crop offering artisan gelato made from surplus food.

AI assistance

There are many existing food management software programs available now to help manage food supply and distribution, such as Winnow, an AI tool to help chefs run more profitable, sustainable kitchens by cutting food waste in half.

Another example is Ne’ma, the UAE National Food Waste and Loss Initiative, aimed at inspiring people to reduce food waste by looking at the entire food chain. The COP28 Presidency food initiative, Climate Conscious Catering for People, Planet and Prosperity, is an inspiring example of taking mass catering of conferences – often associated with significant food waste – and setting supported targets to address both
this problem and minimize carbon outputs. This initiative offers an exciting opportunity to create a blueprint for bringing food waste under control at large events and gatherings.

Paul Newnham,
executive director at SDG2 Advocacy Hub

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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