Food waste activist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has given evidence to MPs investigating waste in the Commons Environment Committee and has described hotel buffets as a “big nightmare.”
Speaking yesterday, the celebrity chef said that the buffets “…must always be inexhaustible and always full and always look perfect — and it must look like that when the first guests come down at 6:30 in the morning and it must still look like that when the last guests go on their way at 10am.”
He said that large amounts of food during breakfast time would go to waste and called for a culture change within the hotel industry.
Fearnley-Whittingstall said that there are notices in bedrooms asking guests to re-use their towels if they do not need washing. He called for a similar ethos in regards to food, saying that hotels should inform guests that buffet food would diminish after a certain time to cut food waste.
In 2014 it was estimated by WRAP that food waste costs the hotel sector £318 million a year, which included in food procurement processes, labour, utilities and waste management costs — the equivalent of £4,000 a tonne.
Broken down, the average cost of avoidable food waste to a business is approximately 52p per meal, which is a lot when you consider that 8 per cent of all meals eaten out in the UK are consumed in hotels (611 million meals).
From the food that is wasted, approximately 45 per cent originates from food preparation, 21 per cent from spoilage and 34 per cent from customer plates.
A customer survey from the same year revealed that 41 per cent of those surveyed blamed oversized portions for leaving food on plates.
Overall, out of all waste produced by hotels, approximately 43 per cent of this is recycled, although only 16 per cent of food waste is composted or sent to anaerobic digestion. The remaining 54 per cent of waste is made up of packaging and other wastes.
Fearnley-Whittingstall also said government advisors were wrong to blame families for food waste, especially in regards to supermarkets.