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Costa on course to cut food waste in half fleetwide by 2020

Neil Palomba - 'We've taken a good hard look at the value of food and responsible consumption, and come up with practical solutions'
Costa Cruises' 4GOODFOOD program aims to halve food waste aboard its ships by 2020—10 years ahead of a goal set by the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

A staggering 54m meals a year are prepared on the Costa fleet. The line decided to review all its food service processes and remodel them using an integrated approach based on sustainability while ensuring the proactive engagement of passengers and crew.

Costa is also collaborating with Italian and international partners that have proven track records in cutting food waste, such as Fondazione Banco Alimentare ONLUS, Cittadinanzattiva, the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo and Winnow.

A pilot project was developed and tested aboard Costa Diadema starting in 2016 that yielded impressive results, with a more than 50% reduction in food waste in 11 months—equivalent to saving 1,189 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the emissions of 231 motor vehicles a year.

As a result, 4GOODFOOD is now being implemented fleetwide.

According to the report 'Overview of Waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Sector,' produced by the Waste & Resources Action Programme, world leaders in helping organizations achieve greater resource efficiency, the average shore-based restaurant wastes 284 grams of food per person per meal. This compares to the 216 grams measured on the Costa fleet prior to the launch of the 4GOODFOOD program.

'We've taken a good hard look at the value of food and responsible consumption, and come up with practical solutions,' Costa president Neil Palomba said. '4GOODFOOD is unprecedented in global shipping. Thanks to this program we intend to cut food waste on our ships by half by 2020, 10 years ahead of the deadline prescribed by the United Nations 2030 Agenda.'

According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world every year—approximately 1.3bn metric tons—is lost or wasted.

Palomba said Costa is setting the standard for the cruise industry by promoting a more sustainable shipboard food preparation and consumption model without impacting the quality of the cruise experience.

'But the most important aspect—and this is one of our top priorities—is that this project will engage around two million guests a year as well as our 19,000 crew members, meaning there'll be a positive knock-on effect shoreside as well,' Palomba added.

Sen. Andrea Olivero, Italy's deputy minister of agriculture, food and forestry, vouched for Costa's progress on the path to food sustainability while 'contributing to the cultural change that is taking place vis-à-vis this issue.'

4GOODFOOD is a far-reaching project that considers every aspect of food preparation and consumption on board and provides tangible and measurable solutions. In partnership with the Università di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo, Costa began by remodeling its food and beverage offerings based on sustainability and the rigorous selection of quality products and ingredients while prioritizing the seasonal availability and local sourcing of produce. This included the introduction of 572 regional and local dishes reflecting Italy’s culinary heritage and the Mediterranean diet.

Together with Winnow, specialists in optimization of processes in professional kitchens, Costa placed kitchen scales in the galleys and kept a centralized record to measure and analyze waste at the food processing and preparation level. This enabled the gradual implementation of integrated improvement actions that are already in use on more than half the fleet. Key to this was the training of almost 2,400 galley staff.

Meanwhile, the 'Taste Don’t Waste' consciousness-raising campaign directly involves cruisers by encouraging responsible behaviors and proactive engagement, particularly in the buffet area. In this phase of the project Costa is working with the consumer rights group Cittadinanzattiva, which helped monitor the effectiveness of this 'call to action' on Costa Diadema. The results of the initial test showed almost 90% of the passengers viewed the campaign favorably and the amount of food wasted in the buffet dropped by almost 20%.

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