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The Athenee Hotel achieves another world first to be awarded certification by The PLEDGE on Food Waste

The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok is the first in the world to have been awarded 100 percent All-Star certification from The PLEDGE on Food Waste, the Singapore-based organization that helps hospitality venues drastically reduce food waste.

The certification relates to the Rain Tree Café, which complied with all of the compulsory criteria during the audit, and achieved a score of 100 points, which is the highest score that can be achieved.

Audit Diagnostic Solutions Tourism carried out the audit on 23 August 2020. The auditor was Nicolas Dubrocard, who arranged access via the hotel’s executive chef, Jakub Mares. The announcement was made on 3 September 2020.

Criteria audited were on process documentation, employees’ commitment, food waste monitoring system, food handling before preparation, food preparation and offering, customer engagement, and post-production waste disposal system.

Globally, 33 percent of all food produced is lost or wasted, and tackling food waste is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2, 12 and 13, relating to combatting hunger, reducing waste generation, and mitigating climate change.

For The Athenee Hotel, The PLEDGE certification is the latest stage in its central policy of health, safety, and sustainability.

The hotel was the first in the world to have been awarded ISO 20121 certification for sustainable events, and the first in Thailand to have been awarded Safety & Health Administration (SHA) certification from the Tourism Authority of Thailand for providing the highest standards in cleanliness, hygiene, and social distancing.

“At a time when the world’s hospitality industry is suffering to an unprecedented degree from the limitations on travel imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been working to ensure that the health and safety of our guests is our first concern, and that our entire hotel operation is based upon sustainability and environmental responsibility,” says Ms ChooLeng Goh, General Manager of The Athenee Hotel.

“We have now taken this a step further and are very proud to have been awarded The Pledge certification for our program to reduce food waste. We are now able to provide the highest standards for our Thailand guests, and with the return of international travel soon, we shall be able to assure our overseas visitors that health, safety and sustainability are at the heart of everything we do.”

The PLEDGE is a 95-criteria food efficiency certification designed to cut food waste and save on food costs. Designed from first-hand knowledge by sustainability experts and academics, The PLEDGE is a practical answer to the widely underestimated issue that is food waste.

The third party audited standard is articulated around nine key points that include staff awareness, food waste monitoring system implementation, and guest engagement in reducing plate waste. The food waste monitoring methodology has been recognized as aligned with the United Nations’ Food Loss and Waste Draft Standard.

The Athenee Hotel is part of the Marriott International family, which has its own sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360. By collaborating with associates, brands, customers, franchisees, guests, hotel owners, suppliers, and other business partners, this platform is committed to actively reducing the environmental impact of its hospitality business, embedding sustainability across the organization, holding the group accountable, and increasing the resiliency of the communities where it does business.

This means, across the entire Marriott group, the reduction of food waste by 50 percent and the reduction of all waste to landfill by 45 percent.

While the amount of food waste that The Athenee Hotel generates represents less than 2 percent of the total product volume, the hotel is striving for zero waste to landfill. This means a sustained effort to focus on zero loss in sourcing and procurement, and the development and operation of a standardized process for waste reduction.

To ensure expert input, The Athenee Hotel is working with donation partners like Scholars of Sustenance (SOS) and environmental consultants LightBlue.

The Rain Tree Café has achieved outstanding success since its post-Covid-19 opening through its chef-to-table buffet concept, which offers guests unrivalled choice yet allows guests to dine with zero guilt as it ensures minimum food waste.

As well as the traditional buffet presentation, all stations are served by chefs as well as the rolling buffet concept, where the buffet comes to the guests with tableside service. Hot and cold dishes, and desserts, are served from the trolleys, while the live chef stations provide their own tableside cooking trolley service.

The Athenee is working with SOS on food management and donations, with the latter including food donations from banquet events to be distributed to local orphanages.

The distribution of actual food waste can itself be practical and productive, and the Rain Tree Café kitchen sorts the waste products. Oyster shells are donated to local farmers as chicken feed, adding calcium to the diet of the chickens and resulting in better egg and meat quality. Eggshells make an effective organic fertilizer, improving the soil structure and increasing crop yield. Pineapple skins contain active yeasts and bacteria, and after weeks of aging and fermenting can be transformed into delicious pineapple vinegar. Fruit peel can be turned into an enzyme cleanser. Fruit leftovers can be made into fruit jam. Bacon oil and coconut husks make attractive candles.

The PLEDGE auditor noted amongst his remarks that employee commitment is “great and well managed”, and that excellent training and information for staff is provided. He also commended the use of local Thai produce and the information supplied to guests on organic rice. Specific items were singled out for praise, such as the use of food products that are often discarded as waste, and practices such as the half-size a la carte meals for children.

“As the hotel provides food and beverage services, it is imperative to take thoughtful action to combat food waste, and we are committed to doing our part – socially, environmentally and financially,” says executive chef Jakub Mares, who is on the hotel committee that has initiated the drive against food waste.

“We will continue to advance our role in helping reduce food insecurity, reduce the needless churn of the planet’s resources used to produce food that is then thrown away, and eliminating the cost from food that is ultimately wasted.”