TU.1.B || Future Sustainable Lifestyles – Individual Choices

Goossens, Yanne; Leverenz, Dominik; Kuntscher, Manuela

Using digital food waste-tracking devices can contribute to reducing food waste in food services. Leverenz et al. (2020) implemented such devices in four hotels in Germany to weigh the amounts of leftovers from self-service breakfast buffets. The direct feedback given by the tool allowed staff to get a better insight into the amounts of leftovers returning to the kitchen. Consequently, staff started implementing strategies to reduce buffet returns: after five months, leftovers stabilised and average savings of 64 % were achieved as compared to the first month. The present study looks at how the intervention of using a waste-tracking device for weighing buffet leftovers affects the sustainability of a business in terms of environmental impact savings and cost savings. To calculate the environmental impact savings, a life cycle approach is applied, whereas the business perspective is applied for the economic dimension. Firstly, we consider the avoided product impacts or costs related to the food that is no longer wasted, complemented with the avoided impacts and costs associated with the waste disposal stage that no longer takes place. Next, all used resources and resulting benefits inherent to using the waste-tracking device, such as labour costs for weighing leftovers or electricity use for using the device, are considered. Not only did the self-reporting of the buffet returns lead to leftover reductions of 1.8 tonnes per year and per hotel, it also reduced their carbon footprint by 6.8 tonnes CO2 equivalents. Moreover, net savings of over 8,000 EUR per year per hotel were achieved. Looking at the costs that were needed to implement the use of waste-tracking devices, a benefit-cost ratio of 11:1 was found after one year. This means that the input of 1 euro allowed the business to save 11 euro, thus indicating a clear business case. Along the same lines, the input of 1 euro allowed each kitchen to save 2 kg leftovers and 9 kg CO2 equivalents.