Hotels take innovative steps to reduce food waste

Food waste is a huge issue in the United States, with Feeding America estimating that 70 billion pounds of food are wasted in America each year. An estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed.

A number of hotels have taken the issue to heart and are working to reduce those numbers. One such hotel is Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The hotel, which had 7 million pounds of leftover food in 2015, didn’t throw it away. The food ended up at a hog farm, where it was became food for the animals.

"What's interesting is, is people come to the Las Vegas thinking this is the land of waste when we actually are very, very conscious about our environment," Andy Ginsburg, director of environmental sciences at Aria, told CBS News. "It ends up at the hog farm­­–either in your tummy or the hog farm."

On the Vegas strip, Aria and 10 other major MGM hotels go through trash bags in search of scraps they may have missed.

"Anything that we can find or re-purpose to help the environment, we try to do," Ginsburg said.

In addition, one of the world’s biggest hotel chains has announced it will plant vegetable gardens at many of its hotels as part of a plan to cut food waste by a third.

AccorHotels, which includes the Pullman, Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and Ibis chains, intends to “reduce food waste by 30 percent, in particular by sourcing food locally,” according to chief executive Sebastien Bazin.

The French group, which generates 25 percent to 30 percent of its revenue by serving 150 million meals a year, will first work out how much food it is wasting. Its restaurants will be required to weigh and record food that is thrown away in order to best determine how to cut waste.

Amir Nahai, who leads Accor’s food operations, said that menus currently offering up to 40 main courses would slimmed down.

“In the future we’re going to have menus with 10, 15 or 20 main courses, with more local products,” he said.

The group also intends to plant vegetable gardens at 1,000 of its 3,900 hotels by 2020.

The Fairmont Waterfront is in the process of becoming a zero-waste hotel by the end of the year.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is another brand that works to reduce food waste. The kitchen brigade at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has partnered with Twin Meadows Organics Farm, a sustainable and organic family farm that delivers local produce. The Fairmont team provides the waste vegetable oil back to the farm to fuel the delivery truck and on-farm generator.

In Vancouver, the Fairmont Waterfront is working toward being a zero-waste hotel by the end of 2016. Zero waste means 90 percent of all waste (including food waste) will be diverted from landfill, as certified by Recycle Smart. In addition to the hotel’s 2,100 square foot rooftop garden, the kitchen team has created a vertical garden that composts the kitchen’s food waste onsite and uses it to fertilize plants. The vertical garden supports 100 plants in less than one square meter of space.