The Dragon Hotel

27th November 2014

The Dragon Hotel, part of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, took part in a WRAP pilot project helping a cluster of hospitality and food service businesses to reduce food and packaging waste. By the end of the 6 month pilot, the hotel had reduced costs by £3,000 and increased recycling rates through simple no or low cost measures. The hotel is now saving around £15,000 per year.

Driving down waste
Waste prevention in action
Benefiting the company and community

The Brasserie at the Dragon Hotel

Separating out food waste

Introduction

The Dragon Hotel, part of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, is a 4 star, 106 bedroom hotel in Swansea city centre, South Wales. The hotel has a brasserie and separate lounge menu and caters for a wide variety of functions including business meetings and conferences, private parties and seasonal functions. 

The hotel took part in a WRAP pilot project helping a cluster of hospitality and food service (HaFS) businesses to reduce food and packaging waste.

By the end of the 6 months of the pilot, The Dragon Hotel had reduced costs by £3,000 and increased recycling rates through simple no or low cost measures including:

  • enhanced menu designs and improved customer choice to prevent food wastage;
  • food waste recycling, eliminating the use of a food waste macerator; 
  • waste prevention in room housekeeping that reduced the cost of toiletries and instant drinks; and 
  • extended recycling of customer room waste, kitchen and office dry recyclables. 
  • These actions, together with investment in stock control systems are now saving about £15,000 per year. 
“We knew we should do something but thought that changing anything would result in additional cost to the business. At first I couldn’t believe that we’d be able to save money but now that we can see the savings everyone is keen to do their bit and make it work even better. The staff have been great in taking on board new ways of doing things.”
Cath Garcia, General Manager

Reducing food costs and waste 

A site waste review identified that over 19 tonnes of food waste was being produced each year at the hotel, accounting for 41% of all waste generated.  This waste was being macerated and disposed of to sewer, with the residual fats, oils and grease contributing to drain blockages. Following the review, the hotel Waste Reduction Team introduced food waste recycling.

Through separating the food waste, the kitchen staff were able to see what and how much was being wasted. This information helped identify a number of solutions to reduce food being wasted: 

  • standard meals were provided with set vegetables that some customers may not always want. Customers have now been given choices, e.g. salad to replace potatoes or other vegetables;
  • ‘light’ options have been introduced on meetings and events menus,  e.g. soup and sandwich options, improving customer choice and also reducing the potential for waste;
  • menus were redesigned across different areas of service (e.g. restaurant vs banqueting) to allow sharing of ingredients, reducing the likelihood of them being wasted. For example, green beans are now used in a wide range of menu items; 
  • a daily ‘special’ is offered on the main menu providing customer choice whilst using surplus perishable ingredients and,
  • providing a ‘chef’s choice’ menu for functions at a lower price than the standard function menu to use up surplus stock.

Reducing material use and waste 

The hotel staff  have introduced  a number of other initiatives to reduce costs and waste, and improve recycling. This has included: 

  • buying Welsh speciality foods from Swansea Market has reduced food miles;
  • reducing packaging by encouraging local suppliers to use reusable crates and trolleys;
  • introduction of a water filtration and carbonating machine (shown lower left) utilising branded reusable bottles, further reinforcing the hotel’s environmental credentials; 
  • using kitchen bin caddies to help staff understand the amount of food waste produced and the associated cost;
  • extending recycling to include newspapers, plastic bottles, cans and tins from bedrooms, kitchen and office areas; 
  • placing recyclable waste in clear bags so that it does not get mixed up with the general waste;
  • replacing hot chocolate sachets in rooms with biscuits, as following a guest survey, hot chocolate was seldom used and sachets were thrown away once out of date. 

“We hadn’t realised how much food was being wasted and how easy it was to recycle  it. Within days it was all sorted out and now we can see what is being wasted. We’ve already reduced our perishable food purchasing costs by 25% through better menu design.”

Steve Williams, Head Chef

Reuse in the Community 

As with many hotels, The Dragon Hotel has to upgrade décor and room facilities to meet guest expectations.  This results in potential wastage of often high quality materials.  To avoid this the hotel staff have built a relationship with a local charity which provides services to homeless and disadvantaged adults. This relationship has led to the reuse of 20 beds and 106 chairs, to help people in the community to furnish their homes.  

Overall Impact 

The hotel has benefited in a wide variety of ways from the measures taken including:

  • introduction of a stock control system leading to reduction in food costs of 4% overall;
  • menu redesign leading to perishable food purchasing costs down by ~25%; 
  • 19 tonnes per year of food waste segregated and recycled; 
  • the hotel has increased its recycling rate from under 40% to around 75%, reducing waste management costs by circa £600 per year and maintenance costs by a similar amount; and 
  • the hotel’s green credentials have been enhanced along with its reputation for social responsibility and community support.   

“It’s been brilliant how we’ve been able to look at waste differently and find ways of not only making savings for the hotel and improving our environmental performance, but being able to give something back to our local community. It’s another of those things that makes you feel good about what we do in work.”

Ceri Williams, Food and Beverage Supervisor