Hotel Business: By Adam Perkowsky
As more and more hotels create programs to keep their properties on the eco-friendly path, one component that is often ignored is food-waste management. Between the restaurants, bars, poolside cafés, grab-and-go marketplaces, sundry shops and, of course, room service, food waste in the hospitality industry is not a subject to take lightly.
BioHitech America LLC, headquartered here, has come up with a solution using both hardware and software for the hospitality industry to efficiently deal with eliminating food waste, both actively and proactively.
“After being in the waste industry for more than 25 years and responsible for all aspects of the business, including collection, recycling, and landfills, I saw an opportunity transform the organic waste industry,” said Frank E. Celli, CEO of BioHitech America, who added that his company provides “technology designed to solve the increasingly relevant issue of food-waste disposal, while offering transparency, savings and the means to a sustainable future.”
The hardware component of the solution, the Eco-Safe Digester, is an on-site aerobic digester that eliminates up to 2,400 lbs. of food waste in a 24-hour period by utilizing mechanical and biological treatments to convert food waste into a liquid that is safety discharged through standard sewers, according to the company.
“In hotels, 46% of the waste is food. Traditional disposal of that food waste is not only harmful to the environment, but costly to the hotel as well,” said Celli. “The Eco-Safe Digester provides an alternative to traditional waste disposal and assists the hospitality industry by managing food waste right on-site in an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient manner.”
Then, there’s the software: BioHitech Cloud. The Amazon-hosted platform measures key metrics to optimize the food waste disposal process by noting each increment of waste during disposal, according to Celli. “These metrics provide the hotel with an unprecedented level of transparency and clearly determines where, when and what waste is being produced,” he said. “Once that has been identified, management can use those metrics to avoid overbuying, over-cooking and over-staffing, as well as improving menu selection, which will ultimately reduce waste creation and improve profitability.
“For example, through the key metrics, a hotel can uncover [guests’] dislike for a type of muffin served at breakfast each day,” he continued. “The property can then decide to replace that muffin with a different flavor or type of pastry altogether. If the hotel then saw a reduction in the amount of food waste of muffins after breakfast was served, it would have successfully identified what was causing the waste, as well as the solution to reducing it and improving the property’s profitability.”
The use of data when it comes to waste management is a novel approach to the issue, according to Celli. “In the waste industry, a key criticism is the lack of data. BioHitech America’s customers are receiving waste data in ways they have never seen before,” he said. “From not only seeing the pounds diverted and dollars saved from switching from the traditional and compost practices, but to understanding what is happening internally in each department, during every event, by each employee and from one location to the other. The information acquired now allows a company to incorporate this data into its operations, forecasting, marketing strategies and investor meetings.”
Some 300 locations from a number of industries are utilizing BioHitech America’s solutions—including properties from Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Great Wolf Lodge, Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International—although the adoption of the cloud service is taking some time. “We just launched the cloud product in early 2014, and only 30% of our total customer base has been upgraded,” said Celli. “It requires some hardware and software upgrades, so we have to physically visit each location for retrofits. We hope to be over 50% by the end of the year.”