By Mark Lean
Jul 14, 2021
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE food and drink left behind after you (and your camera and your Instagram feed) have eaten?
Unfortunately, it’s sobering. We as a planet waste one billion tons of food per year, according to the United Nations Environment Program 2021 Report. It’s estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in a 2011 study that a third of food created, from produce to plate, isn’t consumed, resulting in an annual increase of at least 8 percent in greenhouse-gas emissions. With their brimming buffets and busy kitchens, the hospitality sector’s contribution to this figure can unwittingly be substantial, as keeping track of what is wasted isn’t an exact science.
Or, is it? More conscientious hotels have invested in cool waste solutions. No, that’s not an oxymoron! Keep reading to learn about cool tools from AI-driven tech to organic fertilizer.
Remember when Ovolo Hotels made waves last fall by renouncing meat in all its outlets and going 100-percent vegetarian for a year? Well, in addition to maybe, possibly extending this successful plant-based endeavor, they’re tackling greenhouse gases from the other end, with creative measures to convert food after we’ve finished with it.
An estimated 7.3 million tons of food is wasted in Australia alone each year. In Melbourne, Ovolo South Yarra’s Latin-spirited, vegan Lona Misa Bar + Kitchen has both funky vibes and an ecologically aware mindset top of mind. Cue the Orca: a Canadian food-waste-management technology, which Lona Misa utilizes.
The Orca machines whisk air, water and microbiology particles to transform food waste into environment-amenable liquid. It is then safely flushed into a city’s sewers after which the water undergoes the usual filtration processes, and can be reused. The Orca machines look like—and, to an extent, work on—a similar premise to that of dishwashers. They also take the pressure off a city’s overextended garbage trucks, reducing substantial amounts of landfill deposits.
Meanwhile, over in Hong Kong, Ovolo partners with Food Made Good, a sustainability consultancy that advises restaurants on the best ways to foster a sustainable-food system.
Another strategy is to stop the problem before it begins. Sands China, which counts among its properties The Venetian Macao and The Parisian Macao, started its food-waste-reduction crusade in 2019 with the Clean Plate Challenge, asking staff to be mindful to only take what they would eat in the resorts’ canteens. This saw a total of 97,000 pristine plates returned at meal times.
Recently, with Winnow Vision, an artificial intelligence-powered technology, Sands China has decreased food-waste overproduction by 63 percent in a mere six months. Winnow Vision’s data-analytics function, according to Meridith Beaujean, executive director of sustainability at Sands China, has been a game-changer: “Our kitchen teams can adjust the production to reduce the waste… It helps us make decisions on the food to source, [and] produce.”
Grand Hyatt Singapore
Courtesy of Grand Hyatt Singapore (2)
Properties with ample determination—and space!—find it most efficient to keep the waste-management loop entirely in-house. Before Covid, the five restaurants at the Grand Hyatt Singapore that include the popular society spots mezza9 and StraitsKitchen collectively served 3,000 to 5,000 meals a day. For the past five years, the hotel in collaboration with Biomax Industries has installed within its labyrinthine underbelly a complex infrastructure. The elaborate set-up features a vacuum system, a grinder and dewatering unit, and a cigester system that work in unison to convert 1,000 kilograms of daily food waste into 300 kilograms of organic fertilizer in just 24 hours. Much of the fertilizer is then used in the in-house herb garden as well as the lush and leafy indoor green spaces.
Here’s where we hat-tip just a handful of the many low-tech, creative recycling of food waste practiced by responsible hotels in the region. In the Maldives, Soneva Fushi has an organic chicken farm now made up of 17 chicks that are fed food scraps from the resort’s dining outlets. “An average French Marans lays 150 to 200 eggs a year,” says Avinash Pratap Singh, the resort’s area manager. “In our best capacity of 250 chickens, we are expecting 50,000 eggs a year.”
Ancient traditions abound at Amanbagh and Aman-i-khas (aman.com) in India, which both boast Ayurvedic gardens. Citrus peels are shadow-dried for use in fragrant baths and scrubs. Dried parts of herb plants not suitable for the salad bar are pounded and transformed into Ayurvedic incense powder—aparajita dhoop with its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties is a traditional way of sanitizing the environment. Any other organic waste goes for fodder to the resorts’ organic, free-range chickens, rabbits, cows and goats. Seeds from lemons, oranges and other fruits are added into a seed bank; planting them is a children’s activity during monsoon months.
Order upcycled cocktails at Seasalt in Bali’s Alila Seminyak. The Stretched Pineapple, for example, makes use of the entire fruit, including fermented pineapple skin and leaves, and candied pineapple meat. If you’ve a taste for upcycled animal meat, though, check in to The Athenee Hotel Bangkok. They transform breakfast-buffet bacon fat into candles. The bacon fat is cleansed through a filtration process, fragrance is added and, finally, the wick is set in coconut husks. Hotel manager Brendon Partridge tells me, “Pre-COVID, we make up to 130 candles in one batch.” How’s that for lighting the way to food-waste-free stay?