Final post in the series on food waste, for UNEP/FAO World Environment Day 2013 Reduce your foodprint Think.Eat.Save campaign.
Re-published, for greater awareness, on Living Green Magazine.
Reducing food waste, and waste in general, is not only up to individuals, though don’t thump the significance of the decision of each one of us. But, obviously, based on the volume and turnover of food and consumers, businesses can make a major difference.
That is why, when setting up or reviving a business strategy, there are numerous components, such as making waste management an important and a critical component of running a successful business, which can favourably reflect on the larger environmental scheme of things.
The main aims are to reduce waste disposal, minimize waste accumulation, and economize the waste system by reusing and recycling byproducts as much as possible.
A successful waste management plan will include a set of long-term goals, targeting sustainability, energy effectiveness, cost effectiveness and innovation.
Primarily, the business must estimate the volume of waste produced in a given period (month; quarter; year) and classify the origins and end-source of the the of waste. They must be informed about and understanding of all options. Turning organic food waste into a compost reduces the volume of waste and, as it is relatively easy and economical to compost, it should be seriously considered for the restaurant and other food service establishments that normally circulate a large volume of organic waste. It is simple to set apart and process separately from other waste.
For example, the size of the facility, its function and distribution all matter in terms of devising a suitable strategy. A large hotel that accommodates business conferences, would consider a very different strategy than a small establishment that caters to neighbourhood clientele.
Conventional waste processes have advanced and waste accumulation has many alternatives, for both the business in question and the environment. Considering the fact that landfilling is the least favoured option, the priority lies in reduction and reuse of waste. Primarily, ensuring separate collections for recyclable, compostable and landfill waste so that it can be processed separately requires different techniques for collection and processing. This means getting an organized network for collection, storage, transportation and disposal of waste, preferably locally as it is more sustainable, agreed on and practiced.
Collectively, we all must prioritize a system that is environmentally progressive. Only in joint measures can the hospitality industry hope to bring on the necessary changes and progress, and act positively to strengthen our individual actions at home.
Ultimately, the outcome is to contribute to the reduction in waste and efficient waste processing in order to curb carbon emissions, and thus contribute to a clean and ecologically sustainable strategy.
Tactics that business should employ:
– Promote programs and principles of reduction, reuse and recycling;
– Consider and evaluate all possibilities and alternatives of setting up an organic waste management system;
– Plan and count on long-term strategies, with future goals and the future of the business and the industry in mind;
– Initiation phase: start mobilizing resources and actualizing the plan by purchasing only the amount to be consumed, and thus reducing collection, transportation and disposal costs;
– Raise awareness on sustainability practices and inform the staff and the public about them – the reasons for it, the benefits, the costs, and long-term value;
– Additionally, setting up a feasible, efficient and environmentally sustainable waste management system may serve as a good example for the community or competitors to follow and aspire to, thus making an improvement in the community on a much higher level.
International Water Management Institute notes that reducing the amount of food that is wasted around the world is also a key component to water management (especially eating less meat!). Drawing attention to the fact that food losses happen due to problems with harvesting equipment and food storage in the developing world, and simply throwing out uneaten food in the developed countries, the IWMI urged that we must look at the whole food production process in order to address these problems.
With worldwide water scarcity issues, this is hardly a call that can be ignored.
The International Food Policy Research Institute 2012 report points out that the “recent developments in the land, water, and energy sectors have been wake-up calls for global food security: the stark reality is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources, while eliminating wasteful practices and policies. More holistic strategies are needed for dealing with land, water, energy and food, and they are needed soon”.
While there are countries whose hunger and poverty levels are alarming, the western nations are also exhibiting disconcerting statistics due to wasteful practices. Stop the waste and reduce your footprint.
World Environment Day is June 5th.
Reduce consumption, reduce food waste, reduce your foodprint: Participate in UNEP/FAO ThinkEatSave World Environment Day campaign and consider how all of our choices are affecting our surroundings and its present and future capacity.
Visit UNEP’s thinkeatsave.org site for some eye-opening, inspiring info that should spur you into action!