Hospitality industry could save millions

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by Margaret Little 

For some time, it has been recognised that the hospitality industry is not recycling enough of its recyclable waste.  Unlike domestic households where waste tends to be disposed of in various recycling containers, the hospitality industry is more likely to dispose of its waste in mixed containers.

Zero Waste Scotland is the organisation set up by the Scottish Government to deliver a Zero Waste Plan and it is now urging the hospitality sector to do more to prevent food waste, increase recycling and improve their environmental management processes.  A report carried out by the organisation, published this week, shows that in Scotland 130,000 tonnes of waste goes to landfill from the hospitality industry and of this, 77% is recyclable. 

Food waste tops the list at 41%.  However if a combination of preventing food waste where possible and recycling unpreventable food waste was adopted, Scotland could save in the region of 150,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.  This would be similar to taking almost 50,000 cars off the road for one year.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the report commenting: “Scotland’s hospitality sector plays a huge role in our economy and is enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.  It’s staggering that an estimated £64 million could be saved by the Scottish hospitality sector each year through preventing food waste and increasing recycling.  Harnessing the energy and resource potential of food waste – which can be made into clean energy and fertilizer – is a core aim of our zero waste agenda.

“The Scottish Government wants to drive behaviour change in all sectors to prevent waste arising in the first place and recycle what we can.  In support of this, the Scottish Government has provided over £6 million to expand the network of anaerobic digestion facilities across Scotland, and is making a further £4 million available to support the collection of food waste.”

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland said: “This report identifies a real opportunity for businesses of all sizes operating in the Scottish hospitality sector to cash in on cost savings by taking simple actions to prevent food waste and recycle more.

“Many businesses in the hospitality sector are already working hard to increase recycling rates, and Scotland’s commitment to becoming a ‘green tourism’ destination will hopefully motivate more businesses in the sector to embrace zero waste.  However the amount of waste going to landfill which could be recycled still remains an issue in this sector.

“Recycling unavoidable food waste holds dual benefits.  Not only could it help firms reduce landfill disposal costs, it also prevents greenhouse gas emissions given off as the material breaks down.  Sending food waste to anaerobic digestion (AD) instead allows that gas to be used for renewable energy and we are seeing real growth in AD infrastructure at present.”