Data as Key to Scaling up Food Waste Management Efforts
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Total square footage: 750,783 sq. ft. | Rooms: 629
Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur is a Five Star hotel in central Kuala Lumpur that strives to continually improve its sustainability efforts across operations to responsibly manage their environmental impact and social commitments while contributing to the communities in which they operate. While sustainability values are deeply ingrained in their heritage, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur also aims to be a leader among hotel properties in Malaysia, one that spearheads sustainability efforts and inspires industry players to embark on a similar journey. In late 2019, the hotel partnered with WWF-Malaysia to improve the hotel’s sustainability efforts in four areas: seafood, food waste, plastic, and paper.
To kickstart the joint effort on food waste, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur built a food waste task force under the guidance of WWF-Malaysia to be actively involved in the implementation of a pilot project in the Staff Dining room. This initial program followed the structure outlined in the 16 week Champion’s Guide and targeted the reduction of food waste through a prevention-first approach. Though the property has been tracking their overall food waste for several years already and ensuring 100% diversion away from landfills through an onsite digester, the task force embarked on a journey to dive deeper into the composition of their food waste for reduction purposes.
Based on a newly established baseline that provided insights on their pre- and post-service food waste, the task force developed measurable and achievable goals to improve the flow of food. The task force committed to reducing food waste generated in their Staff Dining by 15% by the end of 2020.
Only 4 weeks into the intervention phase, the task force already recorded a 20% reduction of food waste. The task force pledged to keep a closer eye on indicators such as food waste per cover and cost while communicating and celebrating successes with the staff.
The Stewarding and Kitchen team played a key role in ensuring the accurate measurement of generated food waste. Through the measurement and collection of food waste data pre-and post-service for each meal phase on a daily basis, the task force was able to take a closer look at and analyze the data in order to identify opportunities for significant reductions.
Post-service food waste was identified as a key driver, making up for nearly 80% of the food waste generated from staff dining. A series of food waste audits were conducted to better understand the composition of this post-service food waste, in particular plate waste. In engaging food waste audits, the team sorted the food waste generated by its edible/avoidable vs. unavoidable/inedible parts. These insights, in addition to the overall daily data, were used during an ambitious intervention phase to improve operations including enhancing the Staff Dining’s menu as well as buffet design. Improvements included changing buffet inserts from full size to half size and creating delicious dishes from previously discarded yet edible and safe-to-eat food. Only 4 weeks into the intervention phase, the task force already recorded a 20% reduction of food waste. The task force pledged to keep a closer eye on indicators such as food waste per cover and cost while communicating and celebrating successes with the staff.
While most of the hotel’s operations were temporarily halted during a national lockdown due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, food waste measuring and reporting did not stop and allowed the hotel to better respond to new trends observed from the data.
Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur is committed to continually identify opportunities to further prevent and reduce food waste, both at their Staff Dining as well as the other property-owned food and beverage outlets, while WWF-Malaysia continues to support these efforts. Continuous measurement and analysis of food waste data have been identified as key to scaling up further reduction efforts.