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Article published 30/09/2022

Hospitality Zero

Hospitality Zero was a hospitality food waste reduction project that we launched as part of the Scottish Government tourism recovery funded Destination Net Zero programme, working in collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.

This project aimed at supporting hospitality venues to understand and reduce their food waste. It provided participants with the advice and support needed to achieve this.  

Food waste costs Scottish hospitality outlets an average of £10,000 a year, with the equivalent of one in six meals served ending up straight in the bin. From data gathered during the Hospitality Zero project, it’s estimated that the cost of food waste is likely to be even higher.

Not only is that a huge drain on business resources, but it also contributes significantly to climate change, through greenhouse gas emissions like methane and CO2.

The project

This project aimed to reduce the environmental and financial impact of food waste by providing free, tailored support to businesses within the Glasgow City region.

This included measuring and monitoring of food waste output and the provision of industrial digital kitchen scales.

An on-site food waste audit was carried out by environmental consultancy firm Mabbett to assess kitchen practices and food related operations.

Through the Hospitality Zero project, businesses were assisted in identifying opportunities for implementing food waste reduction measures, with priority actions outlined in a targeted action plan, tailored to each venue.

Who did what?

Six venues from the Greater Glasgow area were chosen to participate in the project and tasked with measuring and monitoring their food waste over a two-to-four-week period.

Businesses included a rural country pub and restaurant, sports venue with themed dining, late night music venue, restaurant within a country estate and hotel complex, as well as both city centre and suburban neighbourhood restaurants.

Waste was separated into three waste streams – plate waste, preparation waste and spoilage – before being measured, to provide insight into how much food was being wasted and where it was generated.

We've seen some encouraging results

£26,307

potential cost savings for participating venues

13.5 tonnes

of food waste prevented

The Hospitality Zero project has found that food waste costs are higher than previously estimated. When the true cost of waste is taken into consideration (including waste uplift costs and wasted ingredient costs, etc), food waste for some of the venues who took part cost more than £20,000.

The good news is that the Hospitality Zero project identified potential cost savings of £26,307 for participating venues, ranging from approximately £2,000 - £9,000 per venue.

The opportunities identified through the project could prevent up to 13.5 tonnes of food waste – the equivalent of 77 tonnes of CO2.

Opportunities for savings were mostly centred around portion sizing, continued measuring, monitoring and targeting, and increasing staff awareness.

What did we learn?

  • Restaurants don’t always know where most of their waste is coming from, even if they think they do

    A third of venues were surprised to find their highest source of food waste was not what they had initially thought. Knowing where waste is coming from is the first step in effectively tackling it.

  • Behavioural change is key

    Many venues expressed concern at how challenging or time-consuming weighing food waste would be.

    At the end of the exercise participants told us they found measuring and monitoring much easier than expected and simply incorporated it into their daily routine. Several venues have even committed to continuing the exercise.

  • There’s plenty more to do

    Hospitality venues are stretched for time and resources and taking the time to think about how to reduce food waste can often feel like wishful thinking.

    The Hospitality Zero project has shown some small changes to business practices can produce real financial and environmental results.

Feedback from businesses

All venues have stated that they’ll be implementing at least one of the recommendations put forward in their action plan.

Actions include:

  • Continued measuring monitoring and starting a spoilage log
  • Purchasing an oil filtration unit
  • Pre-portioning items
  • Reducing size of portions across some menu items
  • Increasing staff awareness through training

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what participants had to say...

Taking part in VisitScotland’s Hospitality Zero food waste project is the latest step we have taken to reduce our environmental impact. Thanks to their support, we’ve found ways to save over 4 tonnes of food going to waste per year.

Cutting out food waste has always been important to us, so we were proud to participate in VisitScotland’s Hospitality Zero project earlier this year. Helping businesses to reduce food waste, the project identified how making a few small changes could help us save an extra 5 tCO2e a year.

tCO2e stands for tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (e)

We took up the two-week challenge of separating, measuring, and monitoring food waste across plate, preparation, and spoilage streams. Results found that 65% of total food waste came from customer plates – almost twice that of the industry average.

By isolating and quantifying waste streams, we can now prioritise targeting plate waste, such as reviewing portion sizes, for greatest savings.

By identifying key waste streams and looking at waste as a potential resource we’ve eliminated the need for a separate food waste bin, which is a great feeling!

The Hospitality Zero project was a great opportunity for us to have a fresh pair of eyes look at what we do and highlight opportunities for improved sustainability that we might have overlooked.

The amount of financial savings that can be made from such low investment tweaks in our day-to-day business has been a real surprise and we’re keen to implement recommendations from the project right away!

The Hospitality Zero project was a great pilot project to be a part of and provided us with some valuable insight into our food waste and where we can work to reduce it.

Knowing that spoilage is high for us, we’re now actively making changes to some of our practices to target foods before they become waste – saving food and money from ending up in the bin.

Destination Net Zero

Tackling climate change is the biggest long-term challenge facing Scottish tourism now, and in the future, and we want to inspire future generations to say that Scottish tourism led the way and made a difference. 

The Destination Net Zero programme was a key strand of the COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Programme, delivered on behalf of the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) by Scottish Enterprise (SE), VisitScotland, HIE, SoSE and partners.

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