EHL & Saviva: a Collaboration to Fight Waste in the Foodservice Industry

EHL Editorial Team | 8 Sep, 2016

The Food & Beverage Research Chair, developed in 2010, aims to study the changes and challenges in the foodservice industry. For 2015-2018, EHL is working with Saviva, a member of M-Industrie, to study sustainable innovations in foodservice. The results of the first study have been published in a report entitled “Let’s stop wasting!”

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In collaboration with 90 restaurants and a group of international experts, the Saviva F&B Chair identified 15 solutions to reduce waste or improve its management.The report focuses on 4 key general waste reduction and management methods: prevention, reduction, reuse, and recycling.

“Our goal is to provide restaurant owners and operators with solutions to improve their waste management processes that are concrete and applicable, but also innovative” explains Dr Christine Demen Meier, head of the Saviva F&B Chair at EHL.

On the prevention side, one of the key suggestions is to offer customers varying sizes of dishes. Although simple, this solution could radically prevent food waste from the outset while also helping satisfy customers by providing them with portions that can be personalized. Ways to reduce food waste is also heavily touched upon in the report, notably with the introduction of apps that help reduce unsold dishes by offering discounts before closing time.

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The other two categories, reuse and recycling, focus on how employees and owners can actively get involved in helping their businesses cut down waste. For reuse, a great initiative is the collaborative reuse of kitchen equipment. This saves start-up restaurants in initially investing in too much equipment and being able to obtain various appliances or at competitive price, or even for free. In addition to avoiding equipment waste, they will also be saving themselves the expensive up-front costs and increasing their chances of survival. In terms of recycling, the report notably mentions smart trash cans, which sort several types of waste (PET bottles, cans, platic glasses, liquid vs solid waste) on their own and provides incentives to encourage customers to recycle waste. Technology can be a great help in reducing waste, and some entrepreneurs already embrace it.

The report also mentions the role employees have to play in recycling food waste and the awareness they can help generate with the customer. If the employees are not on board with the recycling schemes, it is unlikely it will filter down to the customer. A working culture needs to be created whereby employers feel empowered and able to help in a meaningful way, and the report highlights what these approaches could be.

"Waste prevention not only makes a significant contribution to sustainability – it can be interesting for companies from a financial perspective too. Saviva aims to support development in this sector, which also involves an element of knowledge creation. We hope that our support will provide a valuable stimulus for companies in the hotel and restaurant industry,” said André Hüsler, CEO, Saviva AG.

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The choice of method must be adapted to each business model and local environment, as changes to waste management in restaurants will also depend on the customer’s willingness to accept the changes. But like with any revolution, sometimes the customer simply needs to be presented with easy means to participate, and they will eventually come around. Businesses will need to keep 3 keywords in mind: courage, creativity and cooperation. Courage to take the first step towards change, creativity to innovate new concepts and cooperation with the customer and the rest of the industry.

Michel Rochat, CEO of EHL Group added: “This ability to drive innovation and contribute to responsible and sustainable changes in the industry is a key priority for us at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. As a premier academic institution, our role is to educate the next generation of restaurant and hospitality managers, while actively contributing to the development of knowledge for current and future industry challenges.”

The next research topic for the Saviva F&B Chair at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne is well under way and will focus on the sharing economy in the Swiss restaurant industry. The goal of this project is to understand the impacts of this new economy and the clients’ expectations.

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