Did you know that one-third of all food produced worldwide is wasted?
When you think about the stats behind food waste, the numbers are staggering. It represents 1.3 billion tons of food annually. When you break that down further, every kilogram of wasted food equals 4.5 kg of CO2 and 7,000 litres of water. And when you do that math, the answer is: If food waste were a country, it would be one of the most polluting in the world.
We’re always striving to make a positive impact, not only on our teams, those we work with and our local communities, but on our planet too. It’s our responsibility to preserve this planet we all call home. And with over 200 restaurants and bars in Ennismore’s Lifestyle Collective alone, changing the way we view waste could help in our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint. This is why at Ennismore, we are committed to reducing our food waste by 60%, by 2030.
Leading the charge for Ennismore in our battle against food waste is Nick Comaty, our VP of F&B Operations & Development for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and India. In his role, he wears multiple hats in his pursuit of reducing our food waste. “From an operational perspective – I help our teams understand why this is important and help them integrate the new systems,” says Nick, “on the development side – I’m able to plug in our sustainability initiative from day one. It’s always the best way to move forward.”
But what exactly is he doing? “I think you need to learn to swim before you’re thrown in the ocean,” explains Nick, “and that’s part of the process we’re going through now. The first step is to set up an understanding of how much food waste we are going through, and that serves as a baseline to the steps we take going forward.” And reduction can only be achieved through precise measurements.
We have selected 50 Ennismore hotels to participate in a pilot project that began earlier this year, measuring the food we’re consuming and the food we’re wasting. From the prep stages at the back-of-house to the food that is left on the plate at the end of a meal, everything is recorded. “We tried to have hotels throughout the world, across the various brands. This ensures we get a proper picture of what’s happening at our hotels,” Nick tells us, “We understand that we wouldn’t expect the same food waste to happen in a smaller property, in Europe, for example, where it’s possible to source a lot of the product close to you, as compared to a larger resort in the Middle East. That’s why having a good cross-section of destinations and brands with different ways of operating was so important.”
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to gather data, F&B teams use an automated system aimed at “making things a little simpler,” says Nick. To break it down simply: A dashboard and camera are placed above a waste bin, and scales beneath it. Then all you have to do before you drop the waste into the bin is show it to the camera, the camera analyses the contents, extracts the elements in it, and when dropping it into the bin, the scales automatically record the items’ weight. Easy.
“Doing this gives us an understanding of how much we’re wasting in terms of pure kilograms. But not only that, what elements are being wasted,” he explains, “By doing this, we can adjust our recipes accordingly. If, for example, you’re serving fish and chips, and when the plate comes back after the meal, the fish portion consumed but there are leftover chips, measuring each element helps inform our decisions when we adjust our recipes, and in turn, helps reduce food waste down the line.”
Touching on the challenges this project brings, Nick says, “I think F&B people are very busy and structured. We’re all used to doing things our own little way – we’ve been doing it for many years. But we want to make an impact, to make a difference. Nobody wants to over-order and consume more than they need to. I think it is something that’s important in our company. People see that, they see how much food goes to waste and it’s something we can improve on.”
Overall though, “the feedback from the teams has been very positive,” he shares, “When you talk to them they’re happy to be involved. There are even people who’ve reached out to me after talks we’ve done that don’t work in F&B to tell me, you know what, there’s this association collecting leftover food. I think it’s great to see people take this to heart and I think that represents very well what Ennismore teams are all about. We’re passionate, and we care about what we do, and that’s great.”
As for the future of F&B, Nick tells us, “If I knew that, I’d be a billionaire, haha. What’s fun about F&B is that it is always changing and always evolving. It goes in multiple directions, but there’s always a niche for different components. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about creating exciting concepts with food sustainability in mind.”