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As the hotel industry expands, so does its impact on the environment. Large groups and small to medium-sized businesses alike are reacting to this by finding smarter, more proactive ways to optimize their sustainability.

Without doubt, technology is increasingly playing a key role in providing innovative solutions to the challenges of operating a more sustainable hotel business.

Food waste in particular has significant effects on a hotel’s green credentials and carbon footprint. WRAP estimates that the industry produces 289,700 tonnes of waste each year in the UK, including 79,000 tonnes of food waste –more than 35 per cent of which is deemed unavoidable, such as peelings or uneaten meals.

To date, the problem has been how to accurately measure food waste and find more effective ways to dispose of it rather than sending the surplus to costly landfill. The BioHiTech Eco-Safe Digester is an on-site food digester, which is proven to help hotel businesses cheaply and responsibly process their food waste.

On-site food digesters are an example of a disruptive technology that is helping the industry to move away from ineffective, traditional food waste collection methods and make long-term financial, health and resource savings.

Pennies make pounds
Food waste digestion uses microorganism technology to break down food waste into a liquid effluent, which is safe to dispose of through the sewage system according to environmental standards. This method allows hotel businesses to remove the high cost of standard collection, including the landfill tax, which is set to rise from £86.10 per tonne to £88.95 in 2018.

Not enough emphasis is placed on the importance and benefits of separating waste on site – food waste in particular – but the financial and health and safety benefits soon add up. By providing some basic tools and training to allow employees to separate food or wet waste, hotels are seeing general waste being reduced by up to 80 per cent. This reduction in costly general waste allows for general waste skips and compactors to then be reclassified as Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR). With the reduced cost of DMR collection over general waste being around 35 per cent, and the resulting reduction in the number of required pickups being around 50 per cent, or the removal of the waste compactor altogether, the savings can be significant.

What’s more, the advent of cloud-based reporting functionality – a key feature of BioHiTech products – gives hotel managers real-time access to data which accurately measures the amount of food waste generated and processed so they can optimize their ways of working.

Measuring savings
The cloud-based connectivity provides reams of data accessible from multiple devices, providing detailed utilization statistics, savings calculations and environmental contributions based on the positive impact of food waste diversion. Depending on the amount of detail that customers want to go into, the digester can also provide food waste by department. The on-board scales and software can also provide waste data by food type, with the added advantage of being able to measure and dispose of the food waste simultaneously.

What’s more, a hotel manager is now able to easily report to staff and customers the hotel’s green credentials, from truck miles and cubic meters of landfill saved, to their reduction in carbon emissions since diverting food waste from being transported to landfill.
Access to this level of information is extremely valuable – hotels can now confidently back up their sustainability claims with tangible figures that demonstrate how far they are going to operate sustainably and responsibly.

Alongside this, on-site segregation and disposal of food waste helps to reduce the cost and minimize the risk of cleaning and pest control. Traditional food waste collection often requires an area for waste to be stored, which may attract unwanted vermin, requiring the waste area and bins to be regularly cleaned.

Pests pose a risk not only to health and safety, but also a hotel’s reputation, especially in an age when guests can share their experiences almost instantaneously using social media. The benefit of removing the need to store waste until it is collected cannot be overstated.

Smarter use of resources
On-site food waste digestion technology is set to create a huge shift in not only food waste management but total waste management. With the ever-growing costs of waste collection in the UK and across Europe, in-depth analysis of the data related to food waste means that financial and time resources can now be channeled more efficiently.
Tech-savvy hotel owners are now able to monitor their environmental credentials in granular detail, and ascertain the impact of food waste on resources. Food waste is a major global concern, which makes a cost-effective, socially responsible and proven solution like on-site digesters a win-win for hoteliers.

Alex Giacchetti is the president and managing director of BioHiTech Europe