Wondering what happens to the tonnes of food left over at buffet dinners in Hong Kong hotels every night? Some catering operators are finding ways to cut down on wastage, or to donate leftovers to those in need.
Hotel operator Island Shangri-La has launched a programme to package the food for the underprivileged or turn leftovers into fish feed, according to Gabriele Lombardo, Island Shangri-La's hotel manager.
"When our chefs produce food … they take care to assess the quantities," he said. But leftovers were inevitable, and the hotel had programmes to put them to good use.
It also has an arrangement with hunger-relief charity Foodlink, which collects leftovers from the hotel twice a week to distribute among 45 organisations that provide food to residents of old-age homes and the underprivileged.
"The food is mainly bread and bakery products. We donate around 35 kilograms of bread and pastries a month," the manager said.
The next step is to devise a method of donating cooked food. "We are exploring this with Foodlink as food safety is of the utmost importance. We have also begun to donate fruit, starting this month," he said. Besides acting to reduce food wastage, the hotel has also decided to stop serving shark's fin soup and other fish on the list of endangered species.
"While shark fin represents a substantial amount of revenue for our banqueting business, we nevertheless felt compelled to make a firm and public commitment to our sustainable seafood campaign," Lombardo said.
"Guest comments also indicate that in recent years, the younger generation would prefer to steer away from shark's fin," the manager said.
In addition, the hotel also aims to ensure that the equipment and materials it purchases are environmentally friendly and come with energy-saving features.
While this policy may cost more initially, it could have long-term benefits as it could help the hotel to reduce electricity and water costs. "This is a win-win situation. We can save the environment while saving our operating costs," Lombardo said.
"Guests are very supportive of the green concept. People are more aware of pollution and climate-change issues, and our guests are very supportive of our plans to cut down on the wastage of energy and water."
The Shangri-La group is a subsidiary of the Kerry Group which is the controlling shareholder of the SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post.