Costa Cruises Cuts Food Waste

Costa Serena
Costa Serena

Published Jun 6, 2019 8:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Costa Cruises is focusing on cutting food waste as part of its sustainable development strategy. The move supports Sustainable Development Goal 12, responsible consumption, and Sustainable Development Goal 2, a socially aware food system. 

In particular, Costa is striving to help achieve Sustainable Development Target 12.3 which aims to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels by 2030. The cruise line's 4GoodFood project team however has set the ambitious goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2020, 10 years ahead of the 2030 global target.

Costa Cruises hopes to radically change consumption patterns to bring social and cultural benefits. This includes making donations of surplus food, fostering systems and processes aimed at "zero waste" and promoting the idea of the circular economy. 

Tested on the flagship Costa Diadema, since 2016, Costa has now completed the implementation of the 4GOODFOOD program on its entire fleet.

The 4GOODFOOD project has run in collaboration with the University of Gastronomic Sciences (Pollenzo) in Italy. The first stage involved reviewing the menu offerings and resulted in the fleetwide introduction of more than 500 dishes reflecting Italy's culinary heritage, the Mediterranean diet and the seasonal availability of produce. 

The company re-evaluated the buffet service: while retaining its distinctive Italian culinary style and considering the expectations and demands of its international clientele, Costa defined a plan for the introduction of new dishes including vegetarian food, more vegetable proteins (legumes and lesser known cereals) and the creation of a "crudité corner" full of fruit, vegetables and seeds.

In addition, in collaboration with the Banca del Vino di Pollenzo (Wine Bank), Costa revisited its range of wines with an eye for quality and protection of biodiversity.

In what was a first for the cruise industry, Costa Cruises began a partnership with the startup Winnow, a company specializing in optimization of processes in professional kitchens with the aim of ensuring continuous improvement and sustainability. The line quantified the amount of food thrown away during preparation of meals using electronic kitchen scales connected to a data sharing system. Data was collected on excess products past their best before dates, food - such as fruit and vegetable peel thrown away during actual preparation, mistakes while cooking in the galley, food prepared but not served and uneaten food on guests' plate.

All food waste is mapped and placed on Cloud systems provided by Winnow on a daily basis. This allows chefs to take action and make corrective changes where necessary. One year on from the announcement of its objective, the whole of Costa's fleet has achieved a 37 percent reduction in food waste.

A "Taste don't Waste" communication program has been implemented fleetwide. Information provided to guests, using a range of channels, is directed at promoting the benefits of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle and encouraging responsible behavior and proactive engagement of guests. In buffets, an individual's choice of which food and what size portions to put on their plate plays a fundamental role both in the enjoyment of the experience and in decisions regarding preparation of the dishes to be offered in the future.

A test of the campaign was undertaken to Cittadinanzattiva, an association committed to spreading models for reducing waste. In particular, Cittadinanzattiva helped monitor the pilot project on board Costa Diadema with the objective of determining the guest's level of awareness, understanding and willingness to take an active part.

The results were positive with a reduction of waste from guests of 36 percent and from crew of 30 percent. The "Taste don't Waste" campaign has now been implemented in the buffets of the entire fleet. 

The savings made on board were calculated by Winnow, and Costa has reinvested in the quality of food provided and in supporting the project "Orti in Africa" promoted by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. In 2018, Costa made possible the creation of the first 50 gardens in Mozambique (12 gardens), South Africa (14 gardens) and Tanzania (24 gardens) and the development of a network of responsible farmers committed to biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.

Of these 50 gardens, 29 are communal, designated for the whole community, and 21 are school gardens, entrusted and managed by schools to teach tomorrow's farmers the main cultivation techniques. 

The introduction of Law no. 166 of August 19, 2016 on food waste, promoted by Italian MP Maria Chiara Gadda, made it possible to retrieve leftover food and donate it to communities in need. For the first time in cruise industry, Costa Crociere together with the food bank charity Fondazione Banco Alimentare, introduced a surplus food donation scheme involving the retrieval of "ready to eat" meals prepared on board but not served in the ship's restaurants.

The program - started for the first time in July 2017 in Savona - is now active in Italy in the ports of Savona, Civitavecchia, Bari, Palermo and Genoa and has been exported as Italian best practice in France and Spain, in Marseille and Barcelona, and since last December also in Guadeloupe and Martinique. In 22 months, more than 100,000 portions of food have been distributed to 12 associations that deal with people in need.