We could all do a bit more to help the environment, especially in our businesses. Here, Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at Alliance Online, gives Modern Hospitality his top tips to help make your hospitality business more eco-friendly.
Whether you own a hotel, restaurant or bar, it’s likely your business produces a significant amount of waste. The restaurant sector alone produces around 915,400 tonnes of waste each year (WRAP), which is sent to landfill or burned, causing serious harm to the environment. But, as many UK businesses are looking for ways to make their processes more sustainable, what can you do to help reduce your waste and protect the planet? Below, Mike goes through some of the ways you can make your hospitality business more environmentally friendly.
Keep an eye on your food waste
Each year, UK restaurants produce around 199,100 tonnes of food waste, which sounds like a lot, but this is only 22% of the total food waste produced by the hospitality sector as a whole (WRAP). This food waste is usually sent to landfill, where it can produce large amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas) as it decomposes. That’s why you need to implement strategies to cut down on food waste in your business.
There are a few ways you can do this. For instance, you could look at cutting down portion sizes, avoid buying surplus stock, or creating a specials menu to help get rid of any stock you haven’t used. You should also make sure you’re storing your food correctly in fridges and freezers to reduce the likelihood of it going bad before you have a chance to use it up.
Focus on locality
When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, try to keep everything local. This means dealing with local suppliers and sourcing local ingredients to reduce the distance your supplies are traveling. Plus, your local produce will probably taste better as it’ll be fresher than food that’s been sitting in the back of a truck during transit. For furniture and linens, go for pieces made in Britain, especially if they’re manufactured in a nearby town or city.
Swap your cleaning products
Most of the chemicals in your cleaning products can be toxic to the environment. Some aerosol cans contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a chemical which has played a big part in damaging the ozone layer. Other products contain substances like ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous, which can be harmful to wildlife and plant life should they find their way into the local habitat through drainage systems. Plus, the plastic packaging is generally not biodegradable, which means it builds up in landfills if it’s not recycled properly.
So you should consider making the swap to more eco-friendly cleaning products if you can. These usually use ingredients that are better for the environment as well as being safer for humans, animals and plants. You can get eco-friendly versions of all your usual cleaning products too, including toilet cleaner, disinfectant, glass cleaner and washing up liquid, and these products often come in biodegradable packaging as well.
Avoid disposables and packaging
It’s estimated we use around five million tonnes of plastic each year in the UK, half of which comes from packaging, according to a government report. That’s why so many businesses are looking for ways to cut down on their plastic waste.
From mini shampoo bottles in hotel rooms to sandwich wrappers in cafés, you should be looking at the various ways you can reduce plastics and disposables in your hospitality business. So, try to stop offering guests miniature toiletries in their hotel rooms and encourage them to bring their own instead. You can also swap plastic glasses in rooms for reusable ones, or offer jars of loose tea and coffee rather than individual sachets.
In your restaurant, use refillable containers for water and fresh fruit juices and make the switch from plastic straws to paper ones. Even small changes like these can have a big impact on the environment.
But, in some areas of the hospitality sector, avoiding packaging can be hard. If you’re a café offering take-out food, or if you’re giving restaurant guests the option to take leftovers home, try to use eco-friendly, biodegradable containers. These are made from cardboard and recyclable plastics. Just make sure you encourage customers to recycle the packaging when they’re finished. You could even offer customers a discount if they bring their own reusable container.
Organise your waste and recycling
When it comes to waste, your main focus should be on reducing the amount you send to landfill. So, you should invest in three separate bins, one for landfill waste, one for food waste and one for recycling. This way, you can see what you’ve got the most of to help you develop ways to tackle it. For example, if you’ve got a lot of regular landfill waste, look for ways you can introduce recyclable alternatives. If you’re producing a lot of food waste, develop ways to reduce it or compost it rather than sending it straight to landfill.
The hospitality sector produces a lot of waste annually, which can have a serious impact on the environment. By following the tips in this guide, you can start the journey towards making your business more eco-friendly.