Food Waste as Business Opportunity for the Hospitality Industry
Updated: Jul 14
The six-month Food Waste to Good Taste project, launched by the School of Biological Science at The University of Hong Kong, supported by GREEN Hospitality and The Hong Kong Chef Association, with funding from the HKU Knowledge Exchange, is really a collaboration born out of the passion to turn food waste into business opportunities shared by many individuals.
“Just a little after a month after my conversation with Lucia Loposova, Executive Director of GREEN Hospitality, we decided to go ahead and launch the project,” said Dr. Jetty Lee, Associate Professor (Teaching), The University of Hong Kong, in her welcoming speech at the event. “I hope the student innovators were able to learn about food waste reduction and innovation from the workshops, seminars, and site visits we offered through the Innovation Programme. We would like to thank our hospitality partners for allowing us inside their kitchens to learn more about food waste generation and reduction.”
Food waste reduction is more urgent than ever, as Lucia Loposova, Executive Director of GREEN Hospitality, highlighted at the Turning Food Waste into Business Opportunity – Breakfast Seminar & Business Networking event, sponsored by InvestHK, Veolia Hong Kong, and Marriott Bonvoy. “Currently, 1.3 billion tonnes, or one-third of food produced, is wasted. The cost of that is approximately US$1 trillion. In Hong Kong, we are seeing a year-on-year increase in food waste of 5.6% from 2021: every day, 3,437 tonnes of food is wasted, accounting for 30% of Municipal Solid Waste, as one in five Hongkongers lacks access to nutritious food.” said Lucia. “What’s staggering is that it takes an area larger than China to grow all the food that is never eaten. With 4.4 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions coming from food loss and waste, and 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow that same amount of food, accelerating our actions in food waste reduction is crucial to our fight against climate change and food insecurity.”
From the 10 Food Waste Audits conducted with Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, TREEHOUSE!, Rosewood Hong Kong, Sha Tin 18 and Hugo’s at Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, PizzaExpress, and Café Renaissance at Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel, the project team were able to help these hospitality and F&B partners identify the main sources of food waste and good practices in food waste measurement, reduction, and recycling.
“We were very pleased to be involved in the Food Waste to Good Taste project, with the goal of learning more about the food waste situation in our own operations, and the opportunities for food waste in the future,” said Kristine Nudds, Marketing and External CSR Consultant for PizzaExpress. “It was great to receive an enthusiastic bunch of students into our restaurant, to wade through our food waste bin to see what could be achieved.”
“It was a pleasure to work closely with young, passionate students who are keenly interested in helping the professional F&B industry in how we manage our food waste,” said Owen Panzica, Executive Chef, Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel. “The students asked astute questions and were engaged while on our premises. Not only did they observe our food waste collection, they also enquired about how we process food waste and collected data ranging from our charitable donations of food products, to the government programmes that we work with for waste collection on a large scale. We look forward to a new generation of leaders in sustainability who will help our industry solve problems on key waste issues in the near future.”
Challenges remain, of course, such as the high cost of transporting food waste to recycling centres, lack of space to store food waste in a hygienic manner, low awareness of food waste reduction amongst staff and customers etc. The good news is there is not a dearth of innovative solutions designed and implemented by sustainability-minded entrepreneurs.
Stay tuned to our next blog post on three Hong Kong startups founded with the vision and mission to upcycle food waste into new products while helping the city achieve its carbon neutrality goal!
*The Food Waste to Good Taste project and culminating event would not have been possible without the support of our partners:
HKU School of Biological Science
The Hong Kong Chef Association
Invest Hong Kong
Veolia Hong Kong
Not Only Powder
Ways Out Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP)
The Nature Conservancy
Rosewood Hong Kong
The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong
W Hong Kong
Sha Tin 18