Australia is rich with environmental wealth unlike any country in the world – but in order to maintain that, we need to be conscious of how our industries affect it.
Hospitality in particular plays a huge role in environmental preservation, with fast turnover having considerable impact. If you're passionate about building a bright, sustainable future for our planet, find out how a career in the hospitality industry can help you begin.
Sustainability in the culinary arts
Sustainability-minded students can transform the hospitality industry by embracing these ideas.
Reduction of food waste begins in the kitchen. Executive chefs have the power to minimise their kitchen's impact on the environment with careful menu planning and conscious procurement.
The concept of nose-to-tail cooking isn't exactly new but it's not yet broadly adopted in fine dining restaurants. Under this ethos, all parts of the animal are utilised, if not consumed. Bones are used for broth or marrow, while offal may be cooked into pate or unique dishes. The idea is to ensure as much of the animal is used, minimising waste and maximising the returns of the animal rearing process.
On the other hand, there's a growing trend towards plant-based cuisine. This comes from the belief that animal agriculture is responsible for a high level of resource consumption and pollutant emissions. Agriculture uses 60 per cent of Australia's total consumed water, more than any other industry, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Vegan Australia claims 43 per cent of this water is used for pasture and hay production for livestock.
Agriculture has also been historically responsible for the second-highest levels of greenhouses gas production. Emissions have fallen significantly in recent years, which the ABS attributes to the decline of livestock numbers. These figures present a strong argument in favour of plant-based cuisine for environmentally conscious chefs.
Meanwhile, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients may prove better for the environment by cutting down fuel and refrigerant chemicals used in transportation as well as supporting local growers. Sustainability-minded students can transform the hospitality industry by embracing these ideas.
Sustainability in hospitality management
In both hotels and food service businesses, managers can improve impact on the environment through waste and inventory management as well as staff education.
Particularly in the hotel environment, waste can be generated at any stage of the service – in the kitchen, on the plate or in a guest's room. In a case study of Clarion Hotel Helsinki, researcher Nguyen Khanh Linh identified that hotel food waste is caused by:
- Inefficient forecast of food production.
- Incorrect estimation of ingredient purchase.
- Customer behaviour.
- Food safety.
With waste occurring at different points, it takes a whole-team approach to manage food waste in a hospitality business. This starts with the management team. At Clarion Hotel Helsinki, the challenge of food waste is being tackled in a number of ways: customer messaging, data processing, service restructure and staff training.
With waste occurring at different points, it takes a whole-team approach to manage food waste in a hospitality business.
The hotel has produced customer-friendly, eye-catching cards with a clear message encouraging guests to be mindful of the amount of food they order and how much they leave on their plates. They will also shift from a breakfast buffet to a traditional a la carte morning service, making it harder for customers to take more food than they can eat as well as eliminating the need to overfill the buffet to look abundant and appealing.
Managers will also start to weigh food waste. This will help them quantify the environmental and financial impact of food waste as well as further identify reduction opportunities. The data can also be used to reinforce their customer messaging, staff training and incentives with real numbers.
Staff training is a particularly vital part of improving sustainability in a hospitality business. When all team members' values are aligned, everyone can work together toward the mutual goal of a sustainable business and industry.
Sustainability in events management
Events can be an opportunity to make positive change and educate a wide audience, just as much as they can create waste.
Social and environmental responsibility practices can be incorporated into events, either as an underlying effort or as a major theme. Consider the total disposable resources used in running a large scale event – food and single-use vessels, napkins, paper ticketing, brochures and other tangible marketing assets. There are plenty of ways these can be handled by event managers to reduce the overall impact. For example:
- Provide plenty of rubbish bins with clear separation guidelines to help guests sort their waste.
- Switch to mobile ticketing, so attendees can bring their tickets on their phones.
- Minimise the use of flyers or brochures which may quickly find their ways to the bin and focus on more impactful, large-scale marketing and digital campaigns.
Events also provide a great opportunity to put more good into the world – consider donating a portion of proceeds to environmental conservation efforts or charities for social change. Not only does this lessen the impact of your event, it can contribute to a positive image for related businesses.
Creating a longer, healthier life for our planet and everyone on it begins with real reflection on what we take and what we put back into the world. The future is bright with sustainability-focussed graduates entering Australia's workforce.
For more information about how you can kick-start your hospitality career, reach out to Kenvale College today.