Climate Change: Transformation for an eco-responsible F&B operation
To ensure the temperature does not increase by 1.5ºC by 2100, the global community is working together to find solutions like trying to assign carbon budgets to reduce the emission rates of different countries
Climate change has devastating impacts. It leads to severe heat waves, drought, floods and forest fires, destruction of crops along with loss of lives and livelihood every year. To ensure the temperature does not increase by 1.5ºC by 2100, the global community is working together to find solutions like trying to assign carbon budgets to reduce the emission rates of different countries through COP (Conference of Parties) meetings. The most recent COP26 concluded in Glasgow in November 2021.
Promises made by India at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow:
1.To reach net-zero by 2070.
2.To increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatt by 2030.
3.To fulfill 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030.
4.To reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030.
5.To reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45 per cent by 2030.
Why was this promise made?
Over the last 200 years, we have recklessly used fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. While we teach our children to live within our means, we, humans, have to learn to live within the bio capacity of the earth which means we learn to live with current solar energy as opposed to combusting fossil fuels and use it sub-optimally in our products and processes.
Climate change has multifaceted impacts like creating inequity in water, gender and food security. These changes are already taking place and social unrest on a seismic scale will follow if we do not work collaboratively to arrest this dangerous trend.
During the Glasgow meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a clarion call. He said: I propose before you a One-Word Movement. This One-Word, in the context of climate, ‘One-Word’ can become the basic foundation of the world - this word is L.I.F.E ie Lifestyle For Environment.
The One Word L.I.F.E has many nuances for stakeholders to infer from and bring about behavioural changes at an individual as well as organisational level. The hospitality industry is a trendsetter which took Sustainable Development steps 34 years ago when these were not even in vogue.
What will insightful actions look like from F&B department perspective in hotels with knowledge of a rapidly declining resource?
First of all, it is important to understand the definition of luxury. “It is something available for too few people”. Luxury for few should not cause harm to another set of vulnerable stakeholders. This tenet must be ingrained in all operators.
It is also important to understand in resource management that we must not always rely on technologies and resources to reduce our emissions. There are great opportunities which do not require investment or use of resources. In the restaurant trade, food, water and energy are the key resources used for operation.
If food waste is a country, it is the third largest emitter of CO2 emissions in the world. Hence, F&B managers must work creatively to reduce food waste by reducing portion size and feature the quantity in the menu for the guests to decide on how much to order.
The menu should cleverly feature somewhere the dangers of food waste – methane emission at landfill sites and its impact on the vulnerable communities that reside near such visually and nasally assaulting landfill sites. The industry should not be shy of communicating resource modesty in the menu as part of its service design. It is the need of the changing times. Covid19 has taught us to miniaturise the buffet offering with limited but good choices. I hope we continue with this good practice. While taking an a la carte order in a restaurant, service staff must be trained to politely point out to the guest if they are over ordering.
(Ref: Global food systems emissions alone can cause global warming to exceed 1.5°C: CSE report 3rd March 2022)
India is a water-stressed country (Niti Aayog) yet water is used carelessly, like there is no tomorrow. One must remember that water is going to be a limiting factor for businesses. All restaurants and kitchens must have separate water meters. This will help curb water waste as it is often quoted in management jargon ‘what is measured, is monitored’.
Water can be poured in small glasses and a jug kept on the table so that guests could help themselves to the quantity they need. An ultra-conservative figure of unconsumed water in five lakh restaurants in India results in 1.5 crore litres of water thrown per day! This does not include water used for washing the glass.
Energy in different forms, like solar hot water system, solar photovoltaic can be used in hotels and standalone restaurants with access to rooftop space. We are a 300 days sun-drenched country but we have still not leveraged this free resource to the hilt.
Radiant cooking systems help reduce gas consumption by approximately 40 per cent. Food waste can be converted into biogas to be used as fuel in the kitchen, bringing circularity in operation and helping the country reduce its reliance on imported fuels coming from disturbed regions. Chefs can develop healthy cold food items to reduce energy consumption.
Restaurants can communicate to their in-house guests to wear comfortable clothes and avoid wearing a suit and tie (a Colonial hangover) as the default temperature will be set at 25ºC. An addition could be elegant looking fans running slowly.
To summarise, resource optimisation, dovetailed with clever communication with guests will lead to saving costs and reducing the impact of climate change. The real energy for change comes when you are facing a disaster upfront. I hope the industry can see disasters waiting at every nook and corner and proactively disrupt its own system.
Finally, the industry must ask the hotel management institutes to change service design to bring resource efficiency in great detail. What the world needs urgently is a new crop of ecologically responsible leaders at a macro and micro level.
Needless to mention that this task must be undertaken collaboratively by all players in the hospitality sector – as in a sinking ship, everyone comes together to try and plug the leak for survival.
AUTHOR BIO: Niranjan Khatri is Founder, iSambhav
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'MARCH-APRIL 2022 F&B SPECIAL'
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