Reducing Food Waste, One Plate at a Time

Reducing Food Waste, One Plate at a Time

A group of food waste experts help top hotels reduce food waste and save big money

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth. But this time, in combating a global food waste crisis – the more is the merrier. As many as 40 chefs, kitchen and restaurant staff came together at Bangkok’s Marriott Hotel for a first-ever organized Zero Food Waste to Landfill (Michelin Star Revelation) Event. LightBlue has designed and implemented the Thai government supported food waste prevention program since 2017. It includes building capacity, monitoring food waste, designing better menus and procedures, cross-departmental trainings, repurposing unused food and giving away leftovers.

Under China's 'Clean Plate' campaign, a group of 10 people can only order 9 dishes

Today, this challenge has become even more urgent, with China driving a 'Clean Plate' campaign in August 2020. That's because one of the world's most populous countries has chalked up some staggering food waste numbers - enough to feed at least 30 million people annually. This is the second time authorities have called on the country to waste less. In 2013, a similar campaign targeted the extravagant banquets of official functions.

Chefs and restaurant staff gather in The Peninsula Bangkok to tackle the big challenge of reducing food waste. Photo: LightBlue Environmental Consulting Company

Well, the group's food waste activities started before the topic became relevant today - almost a decade ago. Since 2012, it has been actively engaging the hotel industry to prevent food waste and make their existing food processes more efficient. To date, they’ve helped massive food service provider like Sodexo, and big international chains including Marriott, Hyatt, Accor Groups and more. JW Marriott Bangkok, in particular, prevented 118 tons of food from being wasted!

In Thailand, where the group sees some of their most strident efforts, authorities estimate that food waste represents more than 50% of all the waste found in landfills. And beyond that, all the waste produced (about one third of all the food produced for human consumption), can actually feed another 3 billion people. Globally, it’s a 700-billion-dollar opportunity (BCG Report, 2018).

LightBlue's FIT Food Waste Monitoring Tech (App & Software). Photo: LightBlue Environmental Consulting Company

The crucial step in combating food waste, according to LightBlue, is to track and trace. Their sophisticated system allows commercial kitchens to track, understand and cut food waste by as much as 30%, resulting in an at least 3% savings per cover. The smart system was created with back and front of house challenges in mind. Buffet waste though, is only 10-15% of all food waste, nearly half the waste is generated before food even reaches a plate – at planning stage. This stage too, is what their system focuses on.

Chefs and restaurant staff gather in Holiday Inn Bangkok Silom to learn about food waste monitoring and prevention. Photo: LightBlue Environmental Consulting Company

And it’s simple enough to work out with just four steps, which you do with an app in hand. You begin with weighing your waste, recording it in the app, disposing of the waste and finally, reviewing the data collected – that means accessing information such as how much is wasted, when, where, why and what it is.

Top hotels like The Athenee Hotel Bangkok are gunning to go further than reducing food waste. In fact, it is the first to achieve 100% compliance with The PLEDGE™ on Food Waste in September 2020. The PLEDGE™ is a solution-based certification and benchmarking system that looks at seven key pillars including policy adoption, food waste monitoring system, cross department responsibilities, staff awareness, procedure improvement, guest engagement and transformation / redistribution to avoid landfilling.

The goal is for food operations to aim for zero food waste to landfill.

Find out more here.

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