Food waste is a worldwide concern extremely harmful to the environment, including the climate. If it ends up in the landfill, the food that once has been wasted, lost or uneaten, now produces greenhouse gas methane into the air – significantly contributing to climate change.
According the ForMat project report (2016), in Norway, approximately 68.7kg of food per person is discarded, while, annually, an average person throws away 42.1kg of food!
Thinking about that, and giving a closer look to the way guests and staff handle food waste in the hostel, Bergen Montana’s direction, together with the Say HI to Sustainability, decided to take action to improve this scenery by changing routines and raising awareness for the consequences of food waste to the staff and guests, with the: “No crying over spilled milk: a food waste management project”.
The idea is to create a food waste/organic waste weighting system in order to keep track of how much food is being wasted in specific sections inside Bergen Hostel Montana, and find a more sustainable solution to recycle this waste.
In order to do that, first they developed a base strategy to drive the initiative. The organic waste content was divided into two major categories – internal and guests -, and an appropriate separation and measurement scheme have been established: signs were created, new bins were bought and they were ready to rock!
Of course, the most important element to make the entire system works is the staff! With their help, we formulated new routines, guidelines and trained the whole team aiming to create a culture that promotes waste prevention.
It’s also essential to educate guests towards the sustainable goals we want to achieve. Only with their help and understanding, the hostel will be able to have an efficient response – especially when they are the ones responsible for throwing the waste in the right bin.
To make this dream come true, our Food Waste Management task force designed informative signs and posters, and left them in strategic areas around the hostel:
They also created educational videos to teach guests about the project in an entertaining way! The movie below will be presented in the guest kitchen TV.
During our test period – 15.Nov/29.Nov – the hostel registered 7g food waste per person in the dining room bin, and 23,9g organic waste per person in the guest kitchen bin!
Currently, the organic waste collected in the hostel has two different destinations: the bread crusts discarded by HI Bergen Hostel Montana guests are sent to a farm to fed a flock of good looking sheep, while the rest of the edible (food that can be eaten) and non-edible (food that can’t be eaten, like banana peels, bones, etc) waste are recycled by Bergen’s Waste Management Company (BIR).
The team is constantly contacting different organisations to study possibilities to enable a more sustainable recycling system; and we can all do something in order to PREVENT food waste, DONATE what can’t be prevented and DIVERT what remains in our house or hostel!
Check out the step by step we created to help you to start a food waste management in your hostel:
1. The kick-off meeting: Set a meeting with the hostel direction and key members to discuss the goals, develop a plan and create a strategy for your food waste prevention initiative. Don’t forget to define a way to clearly communicate project methodology and goals to all operational staff involved and to schedule regular check-ins to discuss the development of the project.
2. Separation and Measurement Strategy: Establish an appropriate separation and measurement scheme that fits the hostel’s needs. One of the strategies of Bergen Hostel Montana, for instance, is measuring how much non-edible food the internal kitchen throws in the bin, and also the amount of Food waste that hadn’t been eaten in the breakfast buffet and the expired products found in the cooking area. The type of scheme you choose will depend on the property size, resources, and goals: if you want to raise awareness about food waste for the guests, you can monitor how much food they are throwing away; if you want to start planning for reduction inside your own kitchen and prevent overproduction, you will then have to create an internal measurement scheme.
3. Organising the material: Buy and Place the bins in appropriate areas, preferably in the guest kitchen, dining room or places where people are more likely to eat. Create a sheet to record data over a set time period and generate both a total food waste and a Kg per guest baseline metric. At Bergen hostel Montana, for instance, the kitchen cleaning staff and the reception staff are the responsible for weighting and registering the daily collected numbers in the food waste sheet, in order to create a database.
At the end of each month, the manager and duty manager gather the data to generate both a total food waste and a kg per guest baseline metric. With these results, they will be able to identify what action must be taken to reach the project goals.
4. Staff Training: Train and monitor staff on new separation and measurement systems. establish new routines and create guidelines to help them follow the project goals. Always reinforce proper separation behavior.
5. Educating guests: create informative signs and posters and leave them around the hostel in strategic areas, such as the dining room, guest kitchen and even bathroom doors. Engage guests by promoting movie screenings with documentaries about food waste, and always reinforce to them how the hostel in taking action to prevent it.
6. Food waste disposal: There are many options to dispose of your waste in a sustainable way. If the municipality doesn’t offer sustainable solutions for food waste management, you can contact food banks in your city to DONATE good food that hasn’t been eaten; or even make a profit by investing in partnerships with companies like Too good to go. You can also COMPOST your organic waste or try to cooperate with farmers or urban gardens from your community. Don’t let this go to the landfill!
If you are part of Hostelling International and want more details about how to implement a food waste management system in your hostel, please, contact us at facebook.com/sayHItosustainability.
We will be happy to share what we’ve learned during this process!
Written by Amarílis Coelho.