Globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted.
The hospitality and retail food industry contributes to nearly 40% of food waste.
Food that ends up in landfill emits methane, which is roughly 30 times more harmful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. In addition, while 842 billion people worldwide go undernourished every year, as much as one third of food produced for human consumption will never reach those who need it most.
In tourism and hospitality, part of our job is to feed people and to maintain the environment. It costs us to do both, so why are we wasting so much food? This leads to the inevitable question: What can we do to prevent food waste in our industry, the Asia Pacific region and beyond?
When we started conceptualising the BUFFET Campaign nearly two years ago, we really didn’t think there was too much being done in our region. But over the past fifteen months, through the conversations we’ve had with sustainability practitioners, F&B directors, chefs, non-profits, students, hotel owners, and other vendors, we have been proven otherwise.
It turned out that there is so much being done to tackle food waste in our region and in our industry. From Australia to Singapore, Thailand, and Lao PDR – across all sectors of tourism – businesses are working to tackle food waste in very different and innovative ways to suit their unique situations.
We learnt that students – our next generation of tourism leaders – are a truly inspired group. They have been working hard to bring their peers on board, in order to hold their communities and stakeholders accountable.
Because when you address food waste, you have the potential to redistribute food to those in need, recycle inedible food waste, create new markets, improve your reputation and relationship with the community, strengthen employee morale, decrease turnover rates and reduce food, labour and waste disposal costs, all while doing your part to save the planet.
Our newly released PATA BUFFET (Building an Understanding For Food Excess in Tourism) State of the Industry Report is the culmination of these research efforts and discusses some of the recent and ongoing food waste reduction, PATA’s BUFFET for Youth initiative, and advice for going forward.
It aims to encourage organisational changes that will make positive social, environmental, and financial impacts – satisfying the triple bottom line.
This report and the BUFFET Campaign show that taking action is easy. It gives hope that we can indeed achieve goals to reduce food waste by at least 50%.
Yes, there is always more that can be done. But if we don’t start, we won’t get anywhere.
By Chi Lo, Sustainability & Social Responsibility, PATA
Chi Lo, author of the Building an Understanding For Food Excess in Tourism Report, is the outgoing manager of the Sustainability & Social Responsibility programme at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Between 2013-2019, she was responsible for mapping and executing PATA’s sustainability strategy, nurturing global sustainability relationships, and establishing PATA’s position as a sustainability-minded global organisation. Chi will remain in sustainable tourism through her own consultancy, Chi Sustainability Consulting.