By Angela Green
The hospitality and catering industry plays a pivotal role in the global economy, but it also exerts significant pressure on our water resources. From hotels and restaurants to catering services, sports event venues, and conferences this sector relies heavily on water for various operations, from food preparation to cleaning and guest services.
As concerns about water scarcity and sustainability intensify, it is crucial for the industry to adopt more responsible practices to minimise its environmental impact and ensure the long-term availability of this vital resource.
Water Efficiency Measures: Implementing water-efficient technologies and practices is a fundamental step in reducing water consumption. This can include installing low-flow taps, showers, and toilets, as well as using dishwashers and laundry machines with water-saving features. Regular maintenance to fix leaks and drips is also essential to prevent unnecessary water wastage.
Menu Planning: Sustainable menu planning can significantly impact water usage. Focusing on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients can reduce the water footprint associated with food production and transportation. Additionally, offering more plant-based menu options can be an effective strategy since the production of animal-based products tends to be water-intensive.
Food Waste Reduction: Food waste is not only a financial burden but also a waste of the water used in production. Implementing measures to reduce food waste, such as proper portion control, recycling food scraps for compost, or partnering with local organisations to redistribute excess food, can minimise the water footprint associated with discarded food.
Water Recycling and Reuse: Implementing systems for recycling and reusing water can significantly reduce the industry’s water consumption. For example, greywater systems can treat and re purpose wastewater from sinks and showers for purposes like irrigation or toilet flushing. In larger operations, investing in water treatment technologies can allow for the safe reuse of wastewater within the facility.
Sustainable Sourcing: Sourcing products from suppliers that employ sustainable agricultural practices is key. Farmers who use efficient irrigation methods and water-conserving techniques can help reduce the water footprint of the food supply chain.
Educating Team Members and Guests: Raising awareness among colleagues and guests about the importance of water conservation can promote responsible water usage. Simple actions like encouraging guests to reuse towels and linens, or training kitchen staff to minimise water use during food preparation and cleaning, can make a significant difference.
Energy Efficiency: While not always directly related, energy and water are interconnected. Energy production often requires substantial water resources. Therefore, energy-efficient practices, such as using energy-efficient appliances, and renewable energy sources, indirectly contribute to water conservation by reducing the energy sector’s water consumption.
Monitoring and Reporting: Regularly monitoring and reporting water usage can help identify areas where improvements are needed. Setting water reduction targets and regularly assessing progress towards these goals can keep sustainability efforts on track.
Community Engagement: Engaging with the local community on water conservation initiatives can be mutually beneficial. Collaboration with local organisations and initiatives focused on water conservation can enhance a business’s reputation while contributing to broader sustainability efforts.
Certifications and Standards: Pursuing certifications and/or adhering to sustainability standards can provide a framework for sustainable practices, including water conservation.
The hospitality and catering industry has a significant role to play in promoting water sustainability.
By adopting water-efficient technologies, reevaluating menu choices, reducing food waste, and engaging in sustainable sourcing, this industry can minimise its environmental impact and contribute to a more responsible use of water resources. Moreover, community engagement and education can create a ripple effect, encouraging guests and colleagues to become advocates for water conservation beyond the confines of their homes and workplaces.
Sustainable water practices are not only environmentally responsible but also financially beneficial, as they can lead to cost savings and enhanced reputations, making them a win-win for both the industry and the planet.