Reduce food waste, an environmental and economic objective

Reducing food waste, which occurs both in homes and in hospitality, is a way to actively participate in the fight against an important global problem: the UN estimates that a third of the food produced in the world ends up in the trash. , while 9% of the world's population suffers from hunger.

In addition, it is also environmentally beneficial: it promotes responsible consumption, less waste is produced and its consequent management needs, use of energy, water and other resources necessary to produce it, are several examples. Furthermore: it is economically beneficial.

Objective: sustainability

In the case of hospitality companies, where a large amount of food is consumed, this objective is a clear candidate to be part of their sustainability plans. This has been considered by the hotel chain Riu, Hotels & Resorts, owner of almost 100 hotels in 20 countries, the first organization in Spain to have obtained the Zero Food Waste certificate from Aenor, specifically three of its hotels in Mallorca already have the seal. , Riu San Francisco, Riu Festival and Riu Concordia. And soon two more will be added, Riu Playa Park and Riu Bravo.

A seal that the certifier Aenor has created to “address society's growing concern about food waste and align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, according to the company.

In the case of Riu, the challenge of reducing its food waste is the second pillar of its sustainability strategy, specifically the Waste Minimization and Circularity Plan.

Continuous improvement

In the certification process, in which the optimization of the management of pantries, kitchens and dining rooms is key, the company has verified that the organizational culture they practice has made things much easier. «We have always closely monitored all food costs, which in this sector is brutal. If you have good control in that area, you waste much less,” explains Lola Trián, Riu's Director of Sustainability. This control implies, for example, “avoiding excessive stock, which requires deliveries from suppliers, especially those of perishable products, which occur three times a week. This way you make sure that the food does not rot.

Certification is a tool that allows you to organize management and minimize waste in an effective way. A path of continuous improvement with the final objective of reducing food waste as much as possible and maximizing the use of any surpluses that are produced. “Zero, absolute zero will never be, but the purpose is to work for it.”

Trán considers that certification “is an advantage for us that guarantees that we do it well. We have learned a lot in these months and improved processes. And we are very happy, of course.

By “these months” we refer to the process that begins with the management review, identification of the sources where waste is produced and the amounts of waste, evaluation of the different processes, reducing leftover food, ensuring that all operations comply with regulations. and develop a management plan with specific objectives and goals. «The first thing is to make a measurement, to know where you are starting from. From this data you can now identify where exactly the waste occurs and you can optimize the processes. By having a very developed organizational culture, we have been able to fine-tune all these sections very well until reaching certification.”

The role of workers

Once all of the above is done, “it is as simple as training the staff,” says Trián, “raising awareness among the kitchen and dining room staff is everything. They are going to be the ones who are going to optimize everything. The training explains to them how they can avoid having leftover food, but they are the ones who avoid making excess food or having leftovers. The chefs, for example, “are the ones who define each day the quantities that are going to be prepared, adjusting to the stays there are, whether they are full board, etc.”

Among the changes introduced to avoid waste of prepared foods that are more visible outside the kitchen is that there are now also dishes prepared to take advantage of things already prepared and that are “suitable for consumption such as rice, boiled potato salads, different soups and creams, stews, etc. And homemade jams are also prepared to take advantage of fruits.

Riu: first hotel company with AENOR Zero Food Waste certificateRIU