By definition, restaurants and hotels generate a vast amount of waste. Reducing waste is not only good for the environment, but also to increase profits.
The first thing any manager could do it to separate “wet” garbage from “dry” and try to get a pig farmer to pick it up the wet garbage, if feasible. The other possibility is to compost.
For the dry garbage, reducing the volume represents a partial solution. Private garbage removal companies charge by volume. Compactors can reduce dry trash volume by at least 50 per cent and in some instances even more.
Spent oil can be separated and arrangements made for companies to pick it up for recycling. The executive chef should be instructed to examine “plate waste” to determine how much food is returning from the restaurant.
Untouched or partially eaten food means either the portions are too big, or the food is unappealing and lacks flavour or both. Vegetable trimmings can be used for stocks, and thus reducing wet garbage volume.
Using convenience food reduces waste for the restaurant, but shifts the generation of waste to the food manufacturer, and adds to the establishment’s payroll. You can offer two portion sizes to give a choice to guests who prefer to eat less, or have less on their plates.
Buffets, so popular in North America, generate considerable amounts of waste. People take too much food and simply cannot eat all, or load their plates with several incompatible foods that create an unappetizing if not revolting look. Putting a smaller quantity of each item and reducing the offerings may help reduce buffet waste.
Putting a server behind each hot or cold item reduces food consumption, but adds to the payroll. In general, kitchen and service staff must be constantly reminded to eliminate waste, closely watched to reprimand those who fail to follow instructions. Why serve five butter patties per person when two will do? Similarly, in most cases coffee is served with both cream and milk, instead of simply asking what he/she prefers.
Putting unlimited amounts of portion-controlled jams on the table increases waste and cost! Some people open more jams that they can possibly eat, or take some “for later”. The same is true for disposable napkins and paper towels. Consider installing electric hand driers.
For take out operations, several options are open – using fully biodegradable containers, or offering a discount to those who bring their own containers, as now a few enlightened managements of coffee shops do.
Energy waste in commercial establishment is staggering. The main kitchen energy waste is turning on the deep fat fryer too early and keeping it on even after the rush at lunch or dinner.
The same is true for HVAC (heat, ventilation and air conditioning).
Energy consumption in full-service restaurants (pending on location and menu) on average is refrigeration 7 per cent, sanitation 17, food preparation 33, lighting 14, HVAC 27, and miscellaneous 2) represents a considerable cost.
Insulating cooling or heating pipes helps reduce energy waste. Huddling all refrigerator compressors will help reduce heat consumption, setting the thermostat in each room to a comfortable temperature will help reduce excessive use of heating or air conditioning.
Some people feel comfortable at very high levels of temperature ( 73 – 75 F = 23 – 24 C), or cool air (60 F + 14C).
In the tropics, air conditioning costs are very high since cooling air happens to be three ties more expensive than heating.
In hotels, low-flow toilets help reduce water waste, as do aerators on taps.
Turning off lights will reduce electricity consumption considerably.
In many European hotels, the room key card activates and deactivates air conditioning.
Leaks must be fixed as soon as practicable and they waste a lot of water and heat. A steady drip of hot water of one litre per hour costs approximately 10 cents per day, pending on the cost of water.
Thaw frozen food in refrigerators rather than in running cold water so as to save on water and cooling.
Examine the lighting levels in your establishment, and change from bulbs to fluorescent bulbs.
Encourage your restaurant or hotel designer to incorporate sunlight as much as possible.
Consider installing solar panels if climatic conditions and costs are favourable.
Install shampooing dispensers in showers and ask guests to use as a conservation measure.
Ask if long stay guests if they would object to changing linen every second day. The same is true for towels.
All of the above will help you save considerable amounts of money, and help the environment, but only if and when you do it consistently.