Join GREEN Hospitality Hackathon 2022 and Innovate for Circularity
It is easy to succumb to a mental paralysis when pondering the current state that the world is in: on track for 1.8oC of global warming by 2100, with food accounting for more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, and almost everything we consume and dispose of comes with a considerable social, environmental, and human cost. We could put our hands up and wait for the proverbial “end of the world”, or we could stretch our imagination and collaborate with like-minded individuals to innovate a better future.
That is the idea behind the GREEN Hospitality Hackathon and Innovation Night. And that is why, at the inaugural GREEN Hospitality Hackathon and Innovation Night last year, Carmen Ng, Director of Sustainability at Langham Hospitality Group, said to the creative minds: “Be brave and think outside the box, because a lot of hotels now have the awareness and the motivation to tackle waste issues and climate change - they just need the solutions.”
Attended by 65 individuals, our Hackathon last year, made possible with the support of 30 partners, as well as six speakers and 10 mentors who equipped participants with knowledge and advice on sustainability needs and challenges in the hospitality industry, was the first of its kind in Hong Kong and was lauded by judges and mentors alike. Tim Parker, Founder of Circular City, called it “needed, timely, and fun!”. Laura Offe, Co-founder and Owner of Meraki Hospitality, said the event showed that “there is a future for the younger generation to build a career in sustainability”.
To launch the Hackathon in the midst of COVID-19 was daunting, to say the least. We were (still are!) a small team that had to think on our feet, getting creative when navigating physical distancing regulations and logistical constraints. We dug our heels in, because the Hackathon had to take place - not for the photo ops or self-congratulatory fanfare, but because the hospitality industry was amongst the hardest hit, and we believed that by bringing different stakeholders together, we could innovate for sustainability and connect hospitality business leaders with the creative youth, innovators, and entrepreneurs behind the latest innovative solutions. In fact, GrinBean, an AI-powered waste management system developed by participants at our Hackathon last year, is now offering its service to make the recycling process more transparent in Hong Kong.
And we were right. To quote Laura Offe, “There definitely should be more sustainability events like this one. Being able to discuss with other game-changers on the market and learn more about what they do, as well as other stakeholders and people with different perspectives, you can see solutions to the problems that you thought had no solutions to. And as a business owner, you’ll be able to say, ‘Even if it’s baby steps, I can start to do more and more, because I have this person to help me on that.’”
Innovation at the Heart of What We Do
The Hackathon is just one of the ways that we put our finger on the pulse of sustainability issues in the hospitality and tourism industries. Through our regular solution-driven events such as the GREEN Talks and Think Tanks, we connect hospitality business practitioners, innovators and entrepreneurs, academia, the civil society, and sometimes, government departments to share the challenges they face in tackling sustainability issues, exchange knowledge and insights, in order to co-create solutions that could address the pain points of different stakeholders.
From the opinions consolidated from our events, we then proceed to seek innovative solutions for the issues. Our Composting Project, which enables F&B outlets and households to adopt a regenerative approach to food waste, and our Responsible Procurement Tool, which helps hospitality businesses make more informed sustainable procurement choices, are just two projects resulting from our Think Tanks. Instead of letting the absence of data and research stall our progress in advancing sustainability in the hospitality industry, we launched our Waste Deep research to conduct on-site measurement and assessment of food waste and single-use plastic waste generated by the hospitality industry in Hong Kong, in an attempt to set a baseline for further research endeavours. From our conversations with the hospitality and F&B partners who participated in the research and in our previous events, we learnt that there was a great aspiration for waste reduction and recycling. That then led us to curate the F&B Playbook, a comprehensive guide of waste management practices and innovations, drawing on the insights and good practices shared by Christian G. Mongendre, Chef and Founder of TREEHOUSE, a fast-casual plant-based restaurant that operates on sustainable and ethical principles.
Our continuous research, education, and data collection of waste management issues in the hospitality industry puts us in the right position to educate our partners on waste measurement and reduction, and to help them navigate the Hong Kong government’s municipal solid waste (MSW) charging scheme. And so, you can imagine, we are extremely pleased that our project, “Zero-waste to Landfill for the F&B Industry: Creating Circular Systems Through Education, Practice & Partnerships”, has just been approved by the Environment and Conservation Fund and will be rolled out soon. The project aims to educate F&B outlets on waste measurement and reduction at their establishments and provide them with necessary assistance, as a timely initiative to enable them to adapt to the Hong Kong government’s MSW charging scheme. If your F&B outlet would like to participate in our data-driven waste management journey too, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hacking for a Green Recovery for the Hospitality Industry
Since the beginning of the year, we have been trying to put “green recovery” into the mainstream narrative. We have officially kicked off our new project, "A Green Recovery for the Tourism and Hospitality Industries in Hong Kong Through Technology & Innovation", with funding support from the Innovation and Technology Fund. Spanning nine months, the project is one of substantial engagements with stakeholders in the hospitality industry and related supply chains, as well as the research and development of practical tools.
The goal of the project is to create new business opportunities for innovation and technology companies, so that they can facilitate sustainable recovery and build resilience for hospitality businesses in Hong Kong and Asia. How, you ask? Apart from the Think Tanks and our annual GREEN Hospitality Conference, our Hackathon and Innovation Night is returning this year, on 25-26 February 2022. A hybrid of virtual and in-person formats, the Hackathon will be open to university students, hospitality employees, and innovators conceiving tech-driven solutions related to food technology, sustainable packaging, and textile innovation.
We know, it’s a long time coming. If you would like to join us to help the hospitality industry transform waste into solutions and become a circular economy, learn more about the programme details here, get your tickets, or get in touch with us at email@example.com!
*The GREEN Hospitality team will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will proceed with the utmost caution.