These hotels are fighting food waste, one guest at a time

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Some of the world's most iconic hotels are to trial new approaches to tackling food waste, as part of a major new initiative launched today by WWF, the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA).

Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels, and Marriott International are among the high-profile brands to sign up to the 12-week pilot program, which aims to test a range of different technological and behavior change approaches to curbing food waste levels.

The program is part of the Rockefeller Foundation's YieldWise Initiative, which aims to reduce post-harvest food loss and halve the world's food waste by 2030. According to the group, currently around 40 percent of U.S. food waste occurs throughout the supply chain, with the hospitality and food services industry being a prime culprit. 

"With its substantial food service volume and broad reach with consumers, the hospitality industry is an ideal catalyst for accelerating change," said Pete Pearson, director of food waste at WWF. "Imagine every hotel breakfast buffet or conference luncheon eliminating food waste. While businesses should make food donation and landfill diversion a priority, these pilot projects will focus on food waste prevention, which is ultimately better for business and the environment."

Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AHLA, said the aim of the new initiative was to identify effective policies that could be deployed across the global hospitality sector.

"The industry has a unique opportunity to raise awareness and design the guidelines, tools and resources needed to make a difference — the participation of some of America's largest brands in these pilot programs underscores the industry's long-term sustainability commitments," she said. "Through these programs … we look forward to being a part of a worldwide solution to food waste."

Devon Klatell, associate director at the Rockefeller Foundation, said there were reasons to be optimistic that relatively simple changes could deliver significant reductions in food waste.

"We've already seen that hotel guests are more than willing to conserve water and energy, simply by placing a card on their pillows or hanging their towels," she said. "Our hunch is that they'll also take action to be part of the fight to cut food waste. Our support of WWF — part of our $130 million, seven-year YieldWise initiative — seeks to find the simple steps they can take to be part of the solution, one breakfast buffet plate and one room service tray at a time. And once we've succeeded in cutting hospitality food waste, we can take those learnings to other sectors like restaurants and retail."

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