Disney Finds New Ways to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Food Waste

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., April 21, 2015 – With hundreds of food and beverage locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort, how do Disney chefs ensure that guests enjoy bountiful buffets, endless gourmet experiences and well-stocked sweet shops … all without excessive food waste? The secret ingredients are reducing, reusing and recycling.

Disney has developed a variety of innovative systems and best practices to address this issue, from the first stages of food planning and preparation through the final processing of food waste. With the Company’s new buffet optimization tool, which forecasts restaurant food production based on volume, Disney has reduced buffet food production by tens of thousands of pounds each year.

To achieve these results, teams conducted in-depth research to gauge the amount of food remaining after meals. No statistic was left without scrutiny – researchers even calculated the amount of excess sauce left in each pan.

“We were willing to step out of our comfort zone to introduce a new and thought-provoking idea to meet our environmental goals,” said John L. Clark, chef de cuisine, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. “It’s important to remember that no thought is too small to make an impact on the environment.”

Despite this new tool’s efficiency, it doesn’t eliminate all food waste. Some remaining food is donated, while the rest is transported for reuse and recycling. In 2014, Walt Disney World Resort became one of the first customers of Harvest Power Orlando, an advanced food waste recovery facility. This facility has the capacity to convert more than 120,000 tons of organic waste, such as food scraps, annually into renewable biogas and natural fertilizers, as well as the potential to produce 7 megawatts of combined heat and power.

Through a process called anaerobic digestion, Harvest Power Orlando uses naturally occurring micro-organisms to break down Disney’s organic food waste and transform the resulting biogas into renewable energy for the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Some of the waste is also converted into fertilizer that is sold to help revitalize local soil. Disney’s collaboration with Harvest Power allows for more food waste to be recycled than ever before, diverting waste that may have once ended up in a landfill.