Food waste collection and processing in the hospitality sector benefit both the environment and the companies

July 2, 2024
Photo: Jakov Simović

Belgrade, July 2nd 2024 - With the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presented how the collection of food waste in the hospitality sector and its processing into biogas or compost contributes to improving air quality and the environment and thus supports climate action.

Over the past three months, three large catering establishments in Belgrade, which belong to the Delta Holding Company, have collected their food waste and handed it over to the company Eso Tron for further processing. From April to July, almost 24 tonnes of food waste was collected and converted into biogas, preventing the emission of 16.5 tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to the amount absorbed by 790 trees in a year.

Sandra Dokić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, announced that this initiative will be extended to include kitchens of kindergartens, student cafeterias and the restaurant in the parliament building in September. She said this will be an example for other public institutions where large quantities of food are prepared.

"We will try to involve as many catering establishments as possible in our voluntary food waste collection scheme, because at the moment there are no legal obligations. In parallel, we will produce a food management guide for the HoReCa sector, which will be presented and distributed to catering establishments. In addition to this, in the upcoming period we will focus on food waste prevention through various initiatives," said Dokić. She added that one of the next steps for the Ministry is to make proper food waste management a legal obligation..

"In partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, we support public and private companies in Serbia to collect their food waste and apply other principles of circular economy. I invite all interested innovators who have solutions for sustainable waste management to apply for the public call under the ‘EU for Green Agenda in Serbia’ initiative," said Fabrizio Andreuzzi, acting Resident Representative of UNDP in Serbia.

He added that, in the last two years, UNDP helped the implementation of 65 circular economy innovations in Serbia, thanks to the support of the European Union, the Government of Switzerland and the Global Environment Facility totaling 2.8 million USD.

Tijana Koprivica, Chief Business Sustainability Officer at Delta Holding, said that the initiative to collect food from the company's catering establishments provides an excellent opportunity for cooperation between the government, non-governmental organisations and the business sector in the field of environmental protection.

"We are glad that we have contributed to the development of circular economy in Serbia. After seeing the reduced greenhouse gas emissions, we are inspired to implement even more activities. By collecting food waste and converting it into green energy, we have provided our colleagues with an opportunity and incentive to focus on sustainable business, and inspired other companies to do the same so that together we can have a more positive impact on the environment," said Koprivica.

"This is just the first step in our journey, and we will not stop until we have achieved a significant positive impact on the environment. Our company Eso Tron is actively working on introducing the system of separate collection of organic waste. For starters, it is the hospitality sector on the entire territory of Serbia, and in the coming phases we will introduce separate waste bins and containers in the residential communities," said Jelena Plećaš, head of general affairs and human resources sector at Eso Tron. 

The event also highlighted the direct benefits of responsible environmental practices for companies, such as better reputation among consumers, improved competitiveness on the market and the possibility of obtaining favourable financial loans. 

In addition, representatives of French companies and non-governmental organisations reported on their experiences in preventing food waste, processing it and using it as a raw material on the market, which can serve as a model for local companies. Two other relevant initiatives in Serbia were also presented: the solution of the Faculty of Hotel Management and Tourism in Vrnjačka Banja for converting food waste into compost used for park maintenance, and a software for analysing food remains in catering establishments.

The event was organised within the project "Reducing the carbon footprint of local communities by applying the principles of the circular economy in the Republic of Serbia - Circular Communities" implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and with the financial support from GEF.

Speakers: Milica Mikelić, Delta Holding; Tijana Koprivica, Chief Business Sustainability Officer at Delta Holding; Fabrizio Andreuzzi, acting Resident Representative of UNDP in Serbia; Sandra Dokić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Enviromental Protection; Jelena Plećaš, Head of General Affairs and Human resources sector at Eso Tron; Strahinja Čukić, Eso Tron; Vladimir Jovanović, moderator.

Photo: Jakov Simović