Posted on 12 July 2021
Below is an interview with the manager of Cresta Sprayview Hotel in Victoria Falls on managing food waste:
Q: How big is the issue of food waste in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe?
Since 2016, the resort town of Victoria Falls diversified its tourism portfolio to increase capacity to host international conferences, business workshops and tourists. By 2018, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority reported a 65% increase in passenger arrivals, which also meant an increase in food demand and food waste generated. Without a mechanism in place to manage food waste at source, much of the waste is currently being deposited at dump sites, creating a hazard to the environment which in turn is affecting the health of wildlife and people. Victoria Falls has a vision to become the region’s ‘green’ tourism destination, in line with the government’s commitment towards Sustainable Cities and Communities by 2030. As such, food waste management is a vital component that requires commitment by both businesses and communities to make the tourism destination environmentally sustainable and attractive for economic growth. Therefore, as we anticipate business to pick-up after the current restricted travels due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this is a good time to plan and put measures in place to address this issue.
Q: What are some of the challenges posed by poor food waste management?
Food waste at the dumpsites and bins within the city is a serious issue especially for a wildlife resort area, as the waste often attracts wild animals as a source of food. With the food waste mostly not separated and mixed with other waste materials such as plastics, cans and bottles, wild animals such as monkeys, baboons and even elephants are falling victims to ingesting these harmful materials in search of food. During the cyclone Idai event of 2019 which was accompanied by prolonged dry spells in this area for a period of two years, there were reports that some of the elephants we lost had succumbed to ingestion of plastic materials in search of food waste at the dump sites. So apart from being a health hazard to people, if food waste is not well managed, it also threatens the survival of wild animals in this area, which are a key tourist attraction.
Q: What interventions have your hotel been undertaking towards reducing food waste?
We are very much committed to becoming a “green” hotel. We have therefore considered various initiatives to manage the waste within our property, starting from our kitchens, restaurants and even from the rooms. So, we embarked on a project to separate waste plastic bottles, cans and papers, sending these off for recycling. We have since incorporated the aspect of separating organic matter from the kitchens – the trimmings during food production, cooked food and the scrapes from the guest tables, as part of our sustainability action towards halving food waste by 2030. With support from WWF, we have started making use of the Hotel Kitchen Toolkit to help us in measuring and taking action to reduce and manage food waste. Some of the actions we have initiated include coming up with zero waste recipes, cutting down less preferred food from our breakfast buffet menus, and identifying creative ways to recycle food waste than have it disposed into the environment at dump sites.
Q: What are some of the benefits of using the toolkit to reduce food waste within your kitchen, and of having an earthworm composter?
When we started quantifying and analyzing food waste from our kitchen, it helped us to manage areas of food overproduction, which has a direct link to our costs for the food and beverage department. We have also used the food waste data analysis to inform the design of an earthworm composter device to recycle food waste at our property, in collaboration with WWF and the Zimbabwe Earthworm Farms. We have therefore successfully installed an earthworm composter utility device at our property that can convert up to a ton of organic waste each month, to generate organic manure while breeding more earthworms. The manure will be used in our hotel garden to produce spices and fresh vegetables that can be utilized in our hotel kitchen. In the long-run, we expect this model to not only benefit the environment, but also become an attraction for clients who are nature loving.
Q: What do you think needs to be done to get more actors in Victoria Falls to take action towards reducing food waste from dump sites?
We have already started awareness raising within the hospitality sector in Victoria Falls on the need to have the business community committing to take action to reduce and manage food waste. For our part, we will show-case the actions we have started to work on as well as demonstrating both the socio-economic and environmental benefits.
We will therefore continue to collaborate with other like-minded organisations to contribute towards making Victoria Falls a ‘green’ destination through our commitment to take action towards reducing food waste. We have confidence that our actions will be complimented by our guests who are increasingly demanding environmentally sustainable actions by service providers and are loyal to the cause.