American Hotel & Lodging Association partners with WWF to tackle food waste

AHLA toolkit to tackle food waste

AHLA toolkit to tackle food waste

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has partnered with WWF and The Rockefeller Foundation to launch a practical toolkit to tackle food waste in hotels.

Hotel Kitchen is the culmination of a four month pilot programme in which over 200 hotel staff at 10 different hotels used innovative strategies to decrease food waste by 10% while cutting costs and empowering hotel staff to be more sustainable.

The partnership combines the hotel industry's commitment to sustainability with WWF's decades of conservation expertise to provide hotels with an easy-to-follow roadmap for implementing a programme to decrease food waste.

Results from a set of projects demonstrating innovative strategies aimed at reducing food waste in the hotel industry were revealed at the launch. Based on the results the toolkit provides strategies to help hotel properties and brands meet measurable, time-bound goals to reduce food waste. 

Ten hotel properties participated in the 12-weeks of demonstration projects, including a mix of full-service branded hotels and several independent operations across the country. They tested different waste reduction strategies, including low-waste menu planning, staff training and education, and customer engagement. Overall, participating properties reduced food waste at least 10 percent and in some cases properties lowered food costs by three percent or more after increasing measurement and engagement. These findings support case studies conducted by waste tracking technology companies, which typically show cost reduction of three to eight percent. The programme results also revealed that teams achieved greater success at properties where the owners, general managers, and executive staff were highly engaged. 

The website HotelKitchen.org  offers proven practices to decrease food waste, save money, support the environment and meet the demands of a growing sustainability marketplace. The website features a variety of tools to help hotels implement a food conservation programme including a toolkit, sample materials, supportive case studies, video demonstrations and a one stop shop for hotels committed to tackling food waste.

Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste at World Wildlife Fund said, “This project demonstrated that hotel staff can establish new approaches to cut food waste, which in turn reduces food preparation and disposal costs. Collaboration and leadership by sectors like the hospitality industry will allow us to implement prevention strategies and solve problems faster.”   In line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Champions 12.3, WWF and AHLA recommend that US hotels accomplish the following:

  • Measure food waste and set reduction goals from a baseline year.
  • Establish food donation strategies and community food recovery partnerships.
  • Set goals that ensure inedible food waste from hotels is diverted away from landfills.

Katherine Lugar, President and CEO of AHLA said, “Hotels are more committed than ever before to reducing food waste. We are encouraged by the findings of the demonstration projects and are excited to be able to share the tools we have developed with our broader membership. By partnering with WWF and The Rockefeller Foundation, we can share new tools and resources to build on the success of this program and propel the industry to a new level of commitment around food waste reduction.”

Participants in the Hotel Kitchen pilot programme experienced:

  • 17- 38% reduction in food waste 
  • Upwards of 3-8% cost reduction
  • 90%+ participating staff want to take action to reduce food waste

Pearson added, “We no longer have the luxury of time. Because our food carries such a high environmental cost, avoiding waste is a win-win for both business and the planet. As these demonstration projects show, with increased hotel industry engagement, we know we can make a difference. We strongly encourage more hotel companies to participate in this valuable programme and accelerate change.” 

Hoteliers and kitchen staff interested to learn more should visit https://hotelkitchen.org/

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