5 Ways Food Waste Management Can Reduce Carbon Emissions Intensity for Your Hotel Group

Posted by Fiona Montie / 3-Aug-2023

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Emissions intensities serve as a critical metric for hotel groups to assess and monitor their environmental impact. These intensities provide a clear measurement of the carbon footprint efficiency attributed to each property across different parameters, enabling hotels to evaluate their progress toward sustainability targets. Understanding emissions intensities is vital for developing effective emission reduction strategies.

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What is an emissions intensity?

Emissions intensities are the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of a specific activity or output. 

For example, the emissions intensity of a country, often expressed as carbon emissions per capita, is a measure of the average greenhouse gas emissions produced by each person within a specific country over a given period. This metric tells us how much carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions are generated on average by each individual resident in that country. Emissions Intensity per Capita = Total Emissions / Population.

Similarly, an emissions intensity for hotels is a measure of greenhouse gas emissions produced per unit of a specific activity or output. In this context, we focus on emissions per unit of hotel-related activities, such as number of rooms, hotel guest count, energy consumption, waste generation, and water usage. By calculating emissions intensities, hotels can identify the carbon footprint efficiency associated with each activity, making it easier to pinpoint areas for improvement and set meaningful sustainability goals.

How are hotels thinking about emissions intensities?

According to research by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA), “the hotel industry needs to reduce its carbon emissions by 66% per room by 2030, and by 90% per room by 2050 to ensure that the growth forecast for the industry does not lead to a corresponding increase in carbon emissions.” The carbon emissions per room figure reflects an emissions intensity. 

Several hotel brands now include emissions intensity commitments in their ESG goals and reports. For example, Hilton has committed to reduce carbon emissions intensity from managed hotels by 75% and carbon emissions intensity from franchised hotels by 56% from 2008 baseline levels.  

To calculate emissions intensity, hotels typically use the following formula:

Emissions Intensity = Total Emissions / Specific Activity or Output

For example, if a hotel emits 100 tons of CO2 in a year and serves 10,000 guests during the same period, the emissions intensity per guest would be:

Emissions Intensity per Guest = 100 tons CO2 / 10,000 guests = 0.01 tons CO2 per guest

For more in-depth information on emissions intensity calculations and trends, check out the World Resources Institute’s chapter on emissions intensities


The Impact of Food Waste on Emissions Intensities:

Food waste plays a substantial role in emissions intensities within the hospitality sector. The disposal of food waste in landfills leads to the release of methane, a greenhouse gas that is over 25X more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere

Understanding the connection between food waste and emissions intensities is crucial for developing effective sustainability initiatives. By addressing food waste, major hotel groups can make a substantial impact on emissions intensities and contribute to a greener future.


Five Ways Food Waste Management can Reduce Emissions Intensities for Your Hotel Group:

1. Food Waste Monitoring and Measurement:

Winnow's smart technology empowers major hotel groups with real-time monitoring and measurement of food waste. Precise data collection enables hotels to identify waste hotspots, quantify emissions, and implement targeted reduction strategies. Operators are able to view data in real time on live dashboards and through custom reports. This instant access to food waste data allows for comparisons across hotel locations, and Winnow provides useful environmental insights such as carbon emissions per property over customizable periods of time. Our baseline periods of data collection allow your hotels to set food waste emissions baselines and reduce them over time. 

2. Operational Efficiency Optimization:

Winnow enables major hotel groups to optimize operational efficiency, streamlining workflows, and improving inventory management. By minimizing waste generation and resource consumption, hotels can achieve significant reductions in emissions intensities. Our data pin-points the heaviest and most expensive food waste items and allows you to filter by type of waste, such as specific animal proteins, to identify the most environmentally costly items. 

3. Menu Engineering and Waste Prevention:

Through Winnow's data insights, hotel groups can engage in menu engineering and waste prevention initiatives. Collaboration with chefs and kitchen staff facilitates informed decisions about menu offerings, portion control, and waste prevention measures, leading to lower emissions intensities.

4. Behavior Change and Staff Engagement:

Winnow's user-friendly interface and data visualization tools foster behavior change and staff engagement. Winnow’s customer success team works with your team to provide custom reports, trainings, and presentations. By creating a culture of sustainability, hotel groups empower their employees to actively participate in waste reduction, resulting in measurable emission reductions. 

5. Team of multilingual food waste experts 

Winnow’s team in the Americas is multilingual with client training and food waste coaching calls offered in 20+ languages, including Spanish, English, Portuguese, and French. This ability to strategize with you and discuss nuance empowers your hotel group to drive changes across a large portfolio of sites.   


Winnow stands alongside major hotel groups in their journey to reduce emissions intensities and make a meaningful environmental impact. By understanding emissions intensities, addressing food waste, leveraging data-driven decision making, and utilizing Winnow's innovative solutions, hotel groups can achieve ambitious sustainability goals. Together, let's embark on a transformative path toward a more sustainable future, one where emission reduction and environmental stewardship take center stage. 


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