The "Food Waste to Good Taste" Project: Updates From the First Month
Updated: May 14
We were delighted to announce the launch of our project, “Food Waste to Good Taste”, in March!
Co-organised with the School of Biological Sciences (SBS) at The University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Chefs Association, the six-month project is funded by the HKU Knowledge Exchange, with the aim of rethinking how we manage, reuse, and audit food waste from the hospitality industry in Hong Kong, and facilitating exchange between industry, academia, and students. The project has been enthusiastically received by the industry so far, with our hospitality and F&B partners including JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, The Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Pizza Express, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Locofama, TREEHOUSE!, and W Hong Kong, and we are expecting more to join later.
As we are currently mid-way through the project, we have already conducted three Food Waste Innovation seminars, two Food Waste workshops, and two Food Waste Audits within the project framework.
At our first Engineering & Science Seminar on 17 March, guest speaker Dr. Kelvin Cheng, Business Line Director of Waste Collection, Transfer Stations and Landfills at Veolia Hong Kong, shared his groundwork from his 25 years of experience, particularly concerning the challenges for food waste and collection logistics.
In his talk, Dr. Cheng shed light on the strategic goals of Hong Kong’s carbon neutrality initiatives and the four steps of decarbonization; the role of the food waste treatment facility at O · PARK; and the four solutions for the food waste challenge in Hong Kong under Veolia’s “GreenPath Zero Carbon” plan. On the enhancement of logistics process, Dr. Cheng underscored the important role played by AI and digitalization. Concluding the seminar, Dr. Cheng emphasized the importance of education and gave career advice to the students amongst the audience. We would like to thank Dr. Cheng for sharing his invaluable insights. To quote Fenix Lam, Sustainability Project Manager at GREEN Hospitality, the knowledge disseminated in the seminar was “non-Googleable”.
At the Research & Technology Seminar on 24 March, Dr. Lu Zhang, Lecturer of Food Science at the HKU School of Biological Sciences, and her colleague, Dr. Sam Leung, Assistant Lecturer of Food Science, talked about the applications of food science knowledge to our daily lives.
Dr. Leung kick-started the seminar with a knowledge-sharing session on the food waste management process, food waste estimation techniques, new inventions in the field, and composting methods. This was followed by Dr. Zhang’s talk on the guidelines on safe food storage and consumption. Here, Dr. Zhang debunked urban myths about leftovers and touched upon the difference in generational attitudes towards food waste. The seminar evoked genuine interest in the audience, as was reflected in the interactive Q&A session.
To help participants of the Student Innovation Program to think creatively about the management of food waste streams, we collaborated with Anita Cheng, Partnership and Team Management at the Hong Kong Chefs Association, to host a dynamic workshop at the Food Processing Lab on campus on 23 February.
The fun and informative workshop started with Anita presenting a few of the most common foods that can be easily reinvented to create new exciting dishes. Did you know that the ‘day-old rice’, commonly used by Hong Kong households, can be transformed into delicate hors d'oeuvres and delicious desserts?
Equipped with new knowledge, the students were tasked with preparing and plating their dishes with leftover food. For two hours, the students unleashed their creativity and experimented with food ingredients, smashing chips into potato patties and much more.
The results were as surprising as they were delicious. From peanut butter to red bean paste and truffle paste, students took their rice pairing to the next level. Under the tutelage of Anita, the students were able to see that when it comes to food pairing and food waste reduction, the possibilities are endless.
In the second Food Waste Workshop held on 28 February, HKU students joined FAMACY co-founder Tammie Tsang to learn more about, the healing power of food, a working kitchen and how to turn surplus cabbage into sauerkraut.
The latest Videography Workshop for Food Processing Documentary was run by the HKU’s Technology-Enabled Learning Initiative (TELI) on 20 March. The participants learnt the steps of the video production process, from planning to editing and appreciated the power of good stories, using the famous ‘sell me this pen’ scene from The Wolf of Wall Street movie as a reference.
From our previous experience in conducting food waste audits for our hospitality and F&B partners, we know that the exercise, albeit onerous, is informational and can contribute to a more structured approach to food waste management.
We are glad to have recently worked with our partners at Mandarin Oriental, who see shellfish and oyster shells as valuable waste streams to be given new life, and its Executive Sous Chef Simon Gutheridge has already teamed up with The Nature Conservancy Hong Kong to support their Hong Kong Oyster Restoration Project. Oysters and other shellfish are natural filter feeders that improve water quality and stabilise shorelines. For example, a single oyster can filter 200 liters of water a day, creating healthy environments for other marine species to thrive. Mandarin Oriental’s support for the project means that the shells are returned to nature after dining to restore endangered shellfish reefs in several marine locations in Hong Kong.
But it’s not just big names like Mandarin Oriental that are forging ahead in food waste reduction. Did you know that Pizza Express cooks all the food to order, which not only means deliciously fresh food, but also less waste at the end of the day? They always encourage customers to take home any leftovers (in biodegradable packaging of course!). Where available throughout their mall outlets, food scraps are collected and upcycled into fish food. Pizza Express’s sophisticated stock control system, meanwhile, is instrumental to their food in/out management.
These are just our first two Food Waste Audits with our F&B partners. Imagine the amount of food waste that can be prevented and knowledge that can be exchanged, if more F&B and hospitality companies would conduct rigorous food waste audits!
If you would like to join GREEN Hospitality’s network of industry leaders in sustainability, visit our website to learn more about our projects.