ROME - Some of the world's largest hotel chains are taking part in an initiative aimed at cutting food waste, which includes re-thinking menus to prevent food from ending up in the trash, an environmental organization said Tuesday.
About a dozen hotels across the United States run by groups including Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott International will take part in a 12-week pilot program to cut food waste in hospitality, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
"Imagine every hotel breakfast buffet or conference luncheon eliminating food waste," Pete Pearson, WWF director of food waste, said in a statement.
About a third of food produced around the world is never eaten because it is spoiled after harvest and during transportation, or thrown away by shops and consumers.
Yet almost 800 million people worldwide go to bed hungry every night, according to United Nations figures.
In the United States, some 133 billion pounds (66 million tons) of food was wasted by consumers and the retail sector in 2010 at a loss of almost $162 billion, according to estimates by U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pearson said some of the hotel chefs would work to make sure menus for banquets and large events could be quickly adjusted if necessary, and part of the excess food reused for other meals.
"No chef likes wasting food," he told Reuters by phone.
Throwing out food wastes the water, energy and fuel needed to grow, store and transport it, campaigners say, while discarded food ends up in landfills where it rots, releasing harmful greenhouse gases.
Launched with support from the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Rockefeller Foundation, the initiative will also focus on training staff and raising customers' awareness.
"We've already seen that hotel guests are more than willing to conserve water and energy, simply by placing a card on their pillows or hanging their towels," said Devon Klatell, associate director at the Rockefeller Foundation.
"Our hunch is that they'll also take action to be part of the fight to cut food waste," he added.
Reducing food waste is a good investment for companies that can save an average of $14 for every dollar spent on it, a recent study showed.