The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago Unveils New Food Waste Diversion Program for Meetings and Events
Combating food waste is a hot topic in the meetings and events industry these days — and for good reason. The average event wastes 15% to 20% of the food it produces, according to a recent Beyond Food Report.
The U.S. discards more food than any other country in the world — nearly 60 million tons (120 billion pounds) every year, which is estimated to be nearly 40% of the entire U.S. food supply – equating to 325 pounds of waste per person, according to Recycle Track Systems.
With corporations and organizations increasingly prioritizing sustainability practices at the venues in which they gather, hotels are upping their game and making a meaningful effort to mitigate the environmental impacts of their operations and the events they host.
Case in point: The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, which recently launched a new environmentally responsible policy adding food waste as a target, alongside conserving energy and reducing water usage. The hotel also added a unique sustainability program for meetings and events that gives attendees the option of taking home small bags of compost to use in their gardens.
The hotel’s new policy and program are made possible through its management partner, Sage Hospitality Group, which recently partnered with BioGreen360, which provides distributed food waste management solutions for institutional and consumer-facing applications, to roll out the first phase of the collaboration.
By leveraging BioGreen360’s integrated technology solution, which includes a waterless distribution digester, proprietary bio-catalysis and a real-time data analytics package offered through an “as a service” business model, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago will divert 100% of its food waste from landfill, repurposing food that otherwise would have been wasted into a high-value, sustainable natural resource through an environmentally friendly, fully circular process, according to hotel officials.
“[I grew] up in a family of seven in which we had little to no food waste in our household, [so that] has been instilled in myself and family,” said Peter Simoncelli, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago. “We take the same approach in our hotel operations and have created a hotel-wide environment in which each and every one of our [team members] recognizes the importance of sustainability.”
The launch of the hotel’s new food waste program comes on the heels of BioGreen360’s May 24 announcement that it had entered into a national partnership with Sage to develop a closed-loop program to divert 100% of its hotel portfolio’s food waste and integrate the residual material into an array of all-natural compost and fertilizer products.
“As we implement our company-wide ESG and sustainability platform, we were looking for a single-source provider of organics management to divert food waste from landfill consistently across our portfolio of properties,” explained Brad Robinette, senior vice president of special projects for Sage. “We believe we have found that solution with BioGreen360.”
Rolled out in a phased approach, the first phase of the collaboration includes BioGreen360 installations at five Sage portfolio properties in key urban and resort markets across the U.S., including the Ritz-Carlton, Chicago. Once the system has been implemented successfully, the solution will be incorporated throughout the Sage portfolio of branded, lifestyle and independent hotels in 2024.
“We are delighted Sage is adopting our innovative closed-loop solution to food waste, as we have found their teams not only to be excellent operators and hospitality professionals but also forward-thinking and receptive to embracing new technologies that will further differentiate them as a sustainable hospitality experience,” said Joseph Vaillancourt, chairman of BioGreen360.
Why it matters
The new food waste program complements a slate of sustainability practices the hotel has already implemented, including replacing single-use bath products with refillable options, following its Responsible Sourcing Guide when selecting food and beverage vendors and incorporating LED lighting in guest rooms and public spaces, according to Ritz-Carlton, Chicago officials.
Following a recent renovation of its public spaces, convention space and guest rooms, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago offers 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space across 15 different spaces, including one of Chicago’s largest luxury ballrooms that can accommodate up to 1,200 guests.