News | September 29, 2023
Designated in 2019, the United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction on September 29 aims to raise awareness of these areas, as part of the UN’s efforts to combat hunger globally while encouraging innovation toward restoring and building better and resilient-ready food systems.
The UN estimates approximately 13% of food produced globally is lost between harvest and retail, while an estimated 17% of total global food production is wasted in households, food service avenues and retail establishments.
Tackling food waste is a core focus in Sands’ efforts to reduce overall waste because it represents one of the company’s largest waste streams. Through the Sands ECO360 global sustainability program, Sands has deployed three strategies to address food waste: prevention, food rescue and diversion from landfill. The comprehensive plan incorporates technology, processes, training and measurement to tackle food waste from all angles.
Through these initiatives, Sands’ properties prevented, rescued or diverted nearly 2,200 metric tons of food waste last year. That number equates to 20% of total food waste globally and is a significant increase over 2021 performance. This year, the Sands ECO360 team continues to prioritize food as a core focus of the company’s overall waste initiatives.
Avoiding and decreasing food waste is a foundational step, and the company has targeted reducing food waste rates in Team Member dining rooms as a focus area. Last year, Sands China addressed food waste in these venues by working with chefs to cut down food waste at the production stage and educating Team Members so they can make informed choices for dining options.
As part of this process, Sands China worked with dining room chefs on a comprehensive study to assess plate waste, aiming to decrease food waste while improving Team Member satisfaction by adjusting food serving temperatures and providing smaller portions for salads, vegetables and other limited items. These changes were paired with improved communication and signage at dining entrances and plate-waste reduction challenges to promote Team Member awareness.
The combination of research and education has contributed to significant progress in decreasing food waste while enhancing the Team Member dining experience. For the first time since 2020, all five Sands China properties met their quarterly plate-waste reduction targets, enabling Team Members to earn multiple reward dishes throughout the year.
This year, the focus on reducing food waste by educating Team Members continues. For example, Marina Bay Sands has conducted 30 Team Member briefing sessions on proper waste sorting at all resort-owned food and beverage outlets. In June, the resort expanded its awareness efforts with a food waste education campaign that featured game booths on food waste sorting and treatment.
Marina Bay Sands also conducts recycling dock tours to provide culinary teams with education on food waste treatment processes and weekly orientation briefings that prepare new food and beverage Team Members to participate in the resort’s food waste prevention programs.
Sands’ food waste reduction initiatives are also intertwined with the company’s efforts to support food relief programs in local communities, marrying sustainable practices with hunger relief. Sands’ long-term food rescue strategy has continued to benefit local food relief organizations in its host communities.
For example, Marina Bay Sands maintains a strong partnership with The Food Bank Singapore for donation of unserved food, while Sands China has successfully piloted and established an initiative to donate bread and pastry items to the Macau ECOnscious Community Fridge project.
Sands’ food diversion strategy involves treating waste at its resorts to avoid food going to landfill, and a key component is food waste digestion. Last year, Sands China expanded its food waste digestion program to nine company-owned food outlets and is working with five leased restaurants to implement on- and off-site digestion programs.
In Singapore, Marina Bay Sands has piloted an innovative circular solution in which food waste is processed into a residual material with high calorific value that is then used to grow fish feed.
Supportive Data and Tracking
Sands’ food waste reduction strategies are supported by a variety of data collection and measurement programs. In addition to standard reporting procedures, Sands tracks and measures food waste in real time, enabling adjustments in production and menu creation.
To support this effort, Sands China added four new Winnow artificial intelligence trackers at two guest restaurants last year to complement the existing 10 systems in Team Member dining rooms. Marina Bay Sands currently has three Winnow trackers in operation.
Bringing it all Together
Marina Bay Sands has committed support for Singapore’s zero waste masterplan through a comprehensive multi-year plan to address food waste and is collaborating closely with Team Members, restaurant partners, retail outlets, meeting and convention clients, and hotel guests to effect change.
Last year, Marina Bay Sands completed two priorities in its multi-year food waste plan: 1) studying infrastructure and technology to increase food waste treatment at various property locations and 2) evaluating food waste segregation systems at 11 signature and six casino restaurants, resulting in tailored collection plans and new measurement and monitoring systems for these venues. The resort also has installed a radio frequency identification (RFID) system at its waste dock to track waste volumes and enable support for meeting Singapore’s requirements.
In 2023, the resort is focused on addressing waste segregation in its banquet, meetings and expo areas. Marina Bay Sands also has begun conducting bi-monthly waste audits in all of its kitchens licensed by the Singapore Food Agency as well as monthly waste assessments in which general waste trash bags from various food and beverage outlets are opened and sorted according to waste streams. Data and photos collected through assessments are shared with restaurant leadership to aid performance improvement.
“Our multi-layered approach to reducing food waste has generated solid results, from which we intend to build for even greater progress,” Katarina Tesarova, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at Sands, said. “While today’s observance marks a global focus on this important issue, we address food waste as a key priority for Sands ECO360 every day.”
To learn more about Sands’ food waste initiatives, read the 2022 ESG Report: https://www.sands.com/2022-environmental-social-and-governance-report/