Globally, one third of purchased food is wasted. This waste is of growing concern as it not only poses a paradox to the continuously increasing demand for food but also has grave environmental implications. The global hotel industry forms a significant part of this food waste problem. In Hong Kong alone, hotels greatly contribute to the approximately 800 tons of food waste generated on a daily basis. Considering the hospitality industry’s crucial role in the matter as well as its potential for global reach, emphasis needs to be put on waste reduction in this sector. However, the nature of hotels themselves is creating various barriers for sustainable conduct within the given properties. Key impediments to successful implementation of waste reduction strategies are the lack of understanding of guest values, perceptions and overall behavior, as well as the differing importance assigned to ‘green’ conduct by hotel staff and management.
In order to devise successful social marketing strategies for food waste reduction in a hotel environment, mindfulness of these stakeholders as well as triggers to overall ‘waste related behavior’ need to be assessed. Furthermore, to fully comprehend behavior, cultural background of guests, restaurant employees and managerial staff needs to examined, as it is established that culture plays a key role in value and attitude formation, which are known to be the precursors of behavior. The importance of culture in influencing existence and extent of environmentally conscious attitudes has also been widely determined.
However, cultural influence on food waste behavior, especially in the given hotel environment, has not yet been assessed.
In order to conduct this behavioral study, a mixed method approach is to be taken. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with Food & Beverage employees, as well as with relevant managerial staff, while surveys are to be administered to frequent hotel guests. Data is to be categorized according to emergent behavioral styles while the resulting typology is then to be used in order to propose subtle social marketing techniques which are meant to steer both employee as well as guest behavior towards a higher level of mindfulness.
The research results are expected to enhance understanding of the role of culture in shaping wasteful behavior and are thus presumed to facilitate hotel understanding of their own operations as well as of their guests’ behavioral patterns.
This can potentially lead to significant strategy changes which could not only revolutionize the sustainability approach of hotels globally, but could also aid greatly in achieving food waste reduction and thereby enhance environmental protection immensely.