It is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced for human consumption is wasted annually.
This is a problem of growing concern in the global travel industry. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that in 2012 alone, the number of international travellers soared by 4% to reach 1.035 billion for the first time in history. As more and more travellers pack their bags and head out to various destinations across the world, they will generate food waste in hotel facilities, resorts, restaurants, cafes and airports.
As travellers become more aware of the impact of food waste, increasing numbers are likely to choose hotels and restaurants with policies and programmes in place to mitigate this wastage.
The UK government-funded WRAP programme, in partnership with the UN Environment Programmed, aims at reducing food-waste. Over 100 companies are involved in the programme. Hotels signed up to this campaign include Accor, Jury’s inn, Red Carnation and travel lodge group of hotels. The WRAP campaign aims at reducing waste by 5% by 2015, which is projected to save an estimated £720 a year.
In the travel industry, some hotels are trying to cut food waste by altering their dining services. The Al Maha Desert Resort in Dubai has replaced the lunch-time buffet with an a la carte menu. Buffets have a high propensity for food wastage especially in hot climates. Meanwhile, some hotels prefer to give away unused food. The Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas donates meals from its 21 restaurants and 19 bars to Hands of Hunger, a local charity in Nassau.
The online campaign, anti-food waste campaign “Operation Empty-plate” started by Beijing activist Xi Zhujun is fast gaining online prominence globally. In April 2012, Mr. Xu posted a photo on Weibo- the hugely popular Chinese micro-blogging site- showing his empty plate at the end of a meal and urging other to do the same.
Travellers can indeed make wise choices to reducing food waste by ensuring that they clean up their plates, avoid buffets in favor of à la carte menus as much as possible, enquiring about food waste in restaurants and resorts and opting for facilities that do have recycling and re-using plans. Additionally, travellers can follow these top tips to reduce food-waste:
Promptly refrigerate left-overs to prevent them ending up as waste.
Ask for smaller options when ordering for food.
Pack a cooler for foods bought in deli style, these include cheeses and meats.
Carry food out when you cannot finish it.
Travellers should at all times make conscious decisions to prevent food wastage while on the road. Waste not, want not!