Using Technology to Fight Food Waste in Staff Dining
Puntacana Resort & Club, Punta Cana 23302, Dominican Republic
Grupo Puntacana, a large multi-resort property in the Dominican Republic, connected with software provider Leanpath in 2019 to pilot food waste tracking and prevention in part of their operation. Their staff dining facility, called B747, was designated as a promising outlet for this pilot, as it operates around the clock to serve 2500 meals per day via three buffet lines to airport staff, security guards, and employees from around the property.
In November 2019, Chef Robbie Pope from Leanpath visited the B747 dining facility to conduct training for outlet staff. These teams were trained on pre- and post-consumer food waste tracking methodology, making use of the two image-capable scales originally installed for this pilot. Since then, the site has installed additional scales to better accommodate the volume of waste produced. After several weeks of reliable measurement, they established a weekly project data baseline, with pre-consumer food waste measuring in at 1,812 lb and post-consumer waste at 1,341 lb, with reduction efforts beginning as of January 2020. Vegetable waste and post-consumer waste, especially from special events, were the key drivers.
Making use of Leanpath data reports, the property was able to adopt strategies to reduce waste resulting in an annualized savings of nearly 20,000 pounds of food waste, equating to keeping 19,000 meals in the food system and avoiding 60.8 tons of C02 emissions.
The Leanpath pilot has been an eye-opening experience for Grupo Puntacana. We have been deeply involved in integrated solid waste management for well over a decade, but, previously, didn't have access to such a powerful measurement tool as Leanpath. By measuring not only food waste, but also the value of that waste, our restaurant managers and chefs have become more engaged and proactive about changing their practices in food prep, service, and disposal. They now see food waste as both an important environmental and financial issue. We hope to expand the measurement of food waste beyond the B747 kitchen to other kitchens in the resort.
Jake Kheel, Vice President of the Grupo Puntacana Foundation
Soon after launching the pilot, a leadership change occurred, as the property welcomed a new Executive Chef to oversee foodservice across the entire Grupo Puntacana operation. Through weekly coaching calls between Leanpath and the property food waste Champion and Co-Champion, support was provided to ensure buy-in from all staff members and deliver training on how to measure food waste and use the daily digital reports delivered to property leadership.
Consistent measurement proved a difficult behavior to adopt universally, given the number of staff operating at this location and the volume of waste produced. Through continual reminders at the beginning of the pilot, staff teams adjusted to this behavior as a new standard practice. As a result, reliable measurement was critical to determining key drivers of food waste and relevant solutions. Holidays, like Carnival and Christmas, were measured as peak times for food waste production. This is in part due to the influx of temporary staff working to cover vacation time for permanents staff. Higher levels of waste were also reported following staff holiday parties and celebrations. These events, while important opportunities to build community and reward hard work, offered abundant and new food choices. By identifying this source of waste, changes like thoughtful ingredient choices and portioning could be adopted to curb waste without detracting from the celebration.
Following this pilot engagement, Grupo Puntacana will formalize and continue their engagement with Leanpath to measure and control food waste from their B747 staff dining facility. Beyond this, they are considering options to scale Leanpath tracking to foodservice operations across their property. This effort aims to better understand the volume of waste produced by all property food service to determine options to sustainably manage that waste in a way that benefits the business and their local community.
Leaders from Grupo Puntacana continue to champion food waste prevention and management, contributing to case studies and advocacy efforts for increased action on the topic in the Caribbean.